Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

review sturgill x1 cong

“Outlaw country” musician Simpson has delivered an interesting album that musically sounds like what the Blues Brothers set could have been, had they delivered a proper show at Bob’s Country Bunker (where they had both kinds of music, country and western).

He sounds old school country — Waylon Jennings is the obvious comparison — but blends the country with blues, soul and rock n roll in a way that would have made Jake and Elmore proud. Lyrically, it’s a fascinating album, taking the form of a letter from Simpson to his son. It’s a work of inspired genius, though we suspect his full-on country voice might put off people who would otherwise buy blues/soul albums. It might help that Sharon Jones’s backing band, the Dap-Kings, provide music.

It opens with Welcome To The Earth, which kicks off country but then goes more soul, the narrator telling his son that “You may be not be my last but you’ll always be my first,” and wishing he (the dad) wasn’t so far away. Elsewhere there is solid advice in songs like Keep It Between The Lines (“Most thoughts deserve two or three more … Stay in school, stay off the hard stuff”), balanced with perspective in Brace For Impact (“Someday you’ll wake up and this life will be over … So go out and live a little”). A bit of a minor masterpiece, and genre-defying.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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