A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Released: April 16, 2016
Peak: 3 US, 11 CW, 43 UK, 31 CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): 0.22 US
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 38:54
4.153 out of 5.00 (average of 33 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
Sturgill Simpson’s debut album, 2013’s High Top Mountain, suggested his “retro sensibilities…seemed to be rooted solely in outlaw country; he swaggered like the second coming of Waylon Jennings, a man on a mission to restore muscle and drama to country music.” AMG
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, his 2014 sophomore release, “dragged ‘outlaw country’ into modern times with acid-tongued clarity and a world-weary sense of humor.” PF It “was a curve ball revealing just how unorthodox his rulebook was. Sturgill embraced indulgence, pushing new wave, psychedelia, and digital-age saturation, all in an attempt to add the cosmic back into American music.” AMG “Its perspective was so refreshing that other like-minded albums” PF such as Chris Stapleton’s Traveller took off as well.
“While Simpson could have easily milked a few records out of that glum sound and guaranteed industry adulations for decades, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth represents a startling change in tone and presents a wealth of rewards for every creative risk.” PF It “is such a rearrangement of Simpson’s sonic universe that any previous categorization now seems out of date.” PF “Instead of…finding a voice in classic country – Simpson himself smirks at the notion that he is a modern Waylon Jennings…Simpson is doing something far more difficult.” PF On the previous album, he tackled a cover of the late-‘80s new wave hit “The Promise” by When in Rome. Here he performs a similarly astonishing “countrypolitan Nirvana cover” PF of In Bloom.
This is “an old-fashioned concept album, one that tells a story.” AMG “Simpson draws from his time in the Navy, where he was stationed in Japan, and the record is framed as a sailor’s letter home to his wife and newborn son” PF “telling him how to become a man.” AMG “It’s a deeply personal album” PF “loosely based on a letter his grandfather wrote his grandmother” PF which “displays an artistic growth that defies any sort of easy label” PF “while establishing Simpson as the defining songwriter of his class.” PF
Musically, he crafts songs “that veer closer to soul than country.” AMG Simpson is “equally attracted to the symphonic haze of progressive folk and the boundary-blurring soul of Muscle Shoals, using its thick swathes of horns and smears of slide guitar as binding agents.” AMG “The instrumentation on songs like Keep It Between the Lines – much of it provided by Sharon Jones’ backing bad, the Dap-King – is denser, bolder, and more rhythmic than anything Simpson has steered previously.” PF He also makes “room for more contemplative moments like the tender ballad Oh Sarah. On Sea Stories, Simpson shouts “‘Get high, play a little GoldenEye / That old 64!’ like he’s fondly remembering an old Cadillac—while taking a completely different journey.” PF “The result is a beautiful and earnest record.” PF
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First posted 4/29/2022.
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