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Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor's Guide To Earth

  • Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor's Guide To Earth
    June 29, 2016

    From the start, this album can seem an exercise in trampling your expectations. Rather than the edgy psych-country Sturgill Simpson honed on Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, the first taste of A Sailor's Guide To Earth is a gruffly sweet greeting for Simpson's young son, all the awe of a new parent orchestrated in strings and steel guitar. But three minutes in — perhaps you've adjusted by now — well, The Dap-Kings kick in, Simpson's oil-can baritone rises to a soulful shout and you realize that maybe the sly nod to Otis Redding's "Dock Of The Bay" in the track's first few seconds wasn't mere coincidence. Playing neatly into Simpson's reputation for contrarianism is the fact that, as everyone else in Nashville clamored to work with his collaborator Dave Cobb, Simpson chose to self-produce this record, which notably features a Nirvana cover lodged amid his own wry, off-kilter writing. Yet for all its defiance, A Sailor's Guide has at its core something more vulnerable. Simpson knows from experience that navigating life is tricky, and that even the best charts can't guarantee a ship will avoid every squall. But at the album's emotional peak, the gorgeous soul ballad "All Around You," his message to his son is clear: Love will be there, even when all seems lost. In its earnest optimism, that itself is a subversive notion. — Rachel Horn


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michelle.bermudez's picture
on June 29, 2016 - 10:48am

From the start, this album can seem an exercise in trampling your expectations. Rather than the edgy psych-country Sturgill Simpson honed on Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, the first taste of A Sailor's Guide To Earth is a gruffly sweet greeting for Simpson's young son, all the awe of a new parent orchestrated in strings and steel guitar. But three minutes in — perhaps you've adjusted by now — well, The Dap-Kings kick in, Simpson's oil-can baritone rises to a soulful shout and you realize that maybe the sly nod to Otis Redding's "Dock Of The Bay" in the track's first few seconds wasn't mere coincidence. Playing neatly into Simpson's reputation for contrarianism is the fact that, as everyone else in Nashville clamored to work with his collaborator Dave Cobb, Simpson chose to self-produce this record, which notably features a Nirvana cover lodged amid his own wry, off-kilter writing. Yet for all its defiance, A Sailor's Guide has at its core something more vulnerable. Simpson knows from experience that navigating life is tricky, and that even the best charts can't guarantee a ship will avoid every squall. But at the album's emotional peak, the gorgeous soul ballad "All Around You," his message to his son is clear: Love will be there, even when all seems lost. In its earnest optimism, that itself is a subversive notion. — Rachel Horn


Click here to read more.