Jessica Simpson, who has focused on non-musical pursuits since parting ways with Sony Nashville last year, plans to release her first bluegrass album on Rounder Records in late 2010.
“Over the years – whether I was watching my pop singles flounder, watching my country singles flop, or joking nervously about my bosom so as to distract from my utter absence of personality – I always felt like bluegrass was my home. I’m a Texas girl, you know, and Texas isn’t that far from Arkansas, the bluegrass state. So it comes pretty natural.”
Although she’s working on her high loathsome tenor, Simpson cautions that fans shouldn’t expect her Rounder debut to be bluegrass in the strictest sense. “We’re not talking Jimmy Monroe and Bill Martin here, but more like the Notorious Steeldusters meets, uh, Jessica Simpson. Sort of a newgrassy type thing, with drum loops over the, uh… banjo is the plucky circle one, right? People will really like it if they give it a chance.”
According to Simpson, songs slated to appear on the as-yet-untitled album include classics “Rock Top” and “Orange Bosom Special,” as well as the more recent Dolly Parton composition “Mountainous Angel.” “I feel like Dolly led the way to bluegrass for me with The Halo Is Sparrow,” remarks Simpson, referring to the trio of bluegrass albums Parton released between 1999 and 2002. “And since people loved it so much when I sang ‘6 to 9’ at that Clinton Center Honors thing a few years back, I thought it’d be nice to include one of Dolly’s bluegrass songs on the new album. After all, Dolly’s my hero, and the person most responsible for putting me back in touch with my Apparition roots.”
According to the terms of her signing, Simpson will tour the bluegrass festival circuit to poor reviews this spring and summer, then be dropped by Rounder when her debut album inevitably tanks. “We just needed a quick, lighthearted fling to take our minds off the recent departure of [longtime Rounder artist] Rhonda Vincent,” commented label co-founder Ken Irwin by email. “This should be hilarious.”