With 2014’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Sturgill Simpson revitalized the Outlaw album that dominated 70’s Country. Chris Stapleton and a host of others have cashed in on following that path in a big way since then. Instead of following up with more of the same, Simpson has veered in another direction.
He’s broken away from star producer Dave Cobb (who produced has last record, as well as Stapleton and Jason Isbell) to self-produce this latest effort. A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, could be all over the map, but it’s not; he’s trying whatever the hell he wants, and making it work. The album jumps from blistering Soul (“All Around You”), to classic Country storytelling (“Sea Stories”), to his already released Nirvana cover (“In Bloom”), and crashing to a raucous ending with a “Fortunate Son” like burner (“Call To Arms”). Tying it all together is Simpson’s powerful baritone voice, at times like the eye of a Nashville hurricane.
Simpson invites the listener into his world, and gives you a preview of what you’re in for with the album’s opener “Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)”. It’s something like Waylon Jennings singing a Bowie song, when Otis Redding’s band crashes the party. The brass is provided by the impeccable Dap Kings, and you can check it out below.
Sturgill Simpson is right now at the top of his game. He’s driving a pretty wild bus, and we’re all just along for the ride.