A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
Reviewed by: Tiffany Taylor
From the moment I put on A Sailor’s Guide To Earth by Sturgill Simpson, I knew this was something I had never heard before. Simpson is known from his breakthrough in the country genre, completely mixing his style with alternative rock with a new country full band feel. He has captured the hearts and gained such a fandom, there was no way that this new album was not going to gain traction. It is his first record since 2014 and it is one that tells a story of life, war, and love. A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is a folk country anthem that speaks to an audience that spans far and wide from country to wherever it may land.
The album opens with “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)” which is unique and a standout all the way through. Starting soft and slow, letting the lyrics be the focus eventually picks up into a stunning fast paced piece full of intricate melodies. This first song sets the mood for the rest of the record, letting his listeners know exactly where he plans to go. He lets his country roots stand firm but he is most certainly incorporating blues and funk in the best ways possible. Falling into “Breakers Roar” is a lullaby for the ages. Steel drums that pelt the body like thumping heart beats, is the perfect backdrop to the solitude and sadness that this song is filled with. Simpson sing’s of depression and ache to relate to all who are listening.
Simpson takes us back in time with “Keep It Between The Lines” and “All Around You” which are full of revamped classic tracks that showcase the band’s best attributes. At the halfway point in the album, Simpson decided to rework Nirvana’s “In Bloom” which speaks about boys growing up to enter the military, something Simpson is familiar with and something that is dear to his life. It was an interesting choice to add the to the album, but given A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is a record full of stories, it makes sense.
As the album is coming to a close, two more songs are left: “Oh Sarah” and “Call To Arms.” “Oh Sarah” is a beautiful string-filled ballad of love and moving on. Certainly my favorite on the album, it was a beautiful way to come to a close of such an angsty and rocky story. “Call To Arms” is an anthem to proudly proclaim ‘the end!’ Full of protest and anger, Simpson gets his point across with exactly what this album was created to do: make you think and make you listen. Overall A Sailor’s Guide To Earth was not what I expected, it exceeded the expectations by miles. A country-blues-indie-alternative mashup was never done more perfectly thanks to Sturgill Simpson.