Album review: Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”

by Jon E. Lynch

Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”

Available: Friday via Atlantic Records as a download, CD, LP and a run of limited edition sea blue vinyl .

Some longtime Sturgill Simpson fans are about to be disappointed.

By long time I am, of course, referring to the sizable contingent of relatively new fans rightly garnered after the critical success of Simpson’s second full-length player “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” “Metamodern” was arguably one of the best records of 2014, full of purist honky-tonk twang, classic country themes and a (meta?) modern lyrical approach.

It might have been easier, or more prudent, to stay the relative course and make a major label debut in line with his previous, straightforward country records. Instead, Simpson made a fantastic, soulful, experimental and horn-laden quasi-country album that may turn away some of those newly raving fans. Some might take issue with the lush string arrangements in the opener. Others may be confounded by the tremendous session horns courtesy of The Dap Kings. Perhaps waiting for a “true” country track until the listener is a third of the way into the album is too much to ask. Which would be a shame.

Sturgill Simpson made another great record … his first as his own executive producer … so it is certainly the sort HE wanted to make.

Recommended if you dig The Memphis Horns, Van Morrison, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats or JP Harris and The Tough Choices.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]


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