Once again my usual pattern of featuring multiple albums in one article is once again broken with the coming of the long awaited third album from Sturgill Simpson called “A Sailors Guide To Earth”. It was released a day before Record Store Day this year, and I waited to buy it on vinyl because in the press pack I got I knew the vinyl also included the CD. I also wanted to include some news from the Americana Association concerning his album sales, that were thwarted from staying the number one spot because of the death of Prince.
Sturgill Simpson’s new album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top Country, Folk and Rock charts this week. Mr. Simpson’s album was also the largest selling record of new releases across all genres according to Billboard. For the second week in a row, following The Lumineers’ Cleopatra, an Americana album has topped the charts and, along with A Sailor’s Guide and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller, marks three Americana albums now resting firmly in the Billboard Top Ten. “A glance at Billboard’s Top 200 affirms that the popularity of Americana music is on the rise,” commented Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “It’s an exciting time for the American Roots Music community.” was what the press release exclaimed this past week concerning the album sales.
As far as the album goes it was a whole different twist to a quickly becoming classic performer. First he took us to the coal mines and told stories of sorrow and poverty and then blasted us into space on a rocket ride into Panbowl. This next time he creates a half concept album about a young man named Pollywog and if I truly understand the album as a nautical piece the S.S. in a ship’s name can mean Sturgill Simpson!
This album to me was much like “Countach” by Shooter Jennings in the sense it’s not really technically a Country album however it does have some honky tonk sounds on it like the fourth song “Sea Stories” which chronicles the young Pollywog turning nineteen. It describes chronic drug use and talks about King Cobra in boxing rings and Angels playing connect four.
“Welcome To Earth” introduces us to Pollywog and shows us a sailors lament for leaving his family for so long to do his job, sailing is apparently in this baby’s bloodline and we soon see that become more evident as the next four songs unfold.
“Keep It Between The Lines” has some truly awesome Motown sounds to it in fact the whole album has some really crazy horn sections and Motown feels to it and we are introduced to another side of Sturgill we haven’t yet seen. He is expanding and growing as an artist and is drifting further from this “Savior Of Country Music” moniker created by other websites that are claiming success for his career. This man sold out two shows at the Ryman in three minutes and it wasn’t due to ANYTHING accept the fact he sings good music.
“Brace For Impact” and “Oh Sarah” were the conclusions within the concept of the album and maybe this wasn’t the intention of Strugill to be the way I interpreted the album but that’s how I did and I enjoy the album. I didn’t really like the Nirvana cover ‘In Bloom” however to be honest Nirvana does nothing for me nor did any of that genre’s music from that period. I was busy listening to other music, nothing wrong with liking it and I can appreciate it’s relevance…it just doesn’t interest me. All in All I’d say the album is indeed a welcome addition to your collection but not a top ten spot worthy album. I enjoyed the album and I still do, and I eagerly await a bigger and badder Sturgill Simpson form this point on!