After my run this morning – and given I didn’t have to immediately rush home – I felt it was wise to spend a little time upstairs in the gym giving myself a good stretching out. After all, in the last 3 days, I’ve only cycled for two and a half hours, swam three hours for the Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids (click HERE for last years swim), and then ran another 11k this morning. So, yeah, I’d say I’m due for something restorative and relaxing. Oh, and I admit, I also wanted a little quiet time to listen to something I was super-excited to get acquainted with, namely the newest album by Sturgill Simpson ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth‘.
This album was released just yesterday and, no, I have not purchased a copy yet. I had hoped to pick up a copy at SRCvinyl Niagara yesterday during their big Record Store Day promotion but they didn’t have it…yet. Frig! So I downloaded it illegally – I admit it.
I promise I’m going to buy the biggest, fanciest, most expensive copy I can find in the very near future – swear! – but I just couldn’t wait until then to hear it. Please forgive me.
Anyway, rest assured I was very eager to check it out and, thankfully, it did not disappoint. In fact, not only is likely one of the best albums I’m going to hear this year (click HERE for my on-going list of 2016’s best albums) but, like, ever. I mean, seriously, it that fucking good!
Recorded primarily at the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville with engineer David Ferguson (Johnny Cash, John Prine), the album features Simpson’s touring band, as well as Dave Roe on bass, Dan Dugmore on steel guitar, Dougie Wilkinson on bagpipes (yes, bagpipes!), Garo Yellin and Arthur Cook on cello, Jonathan Dinklage and Whitney LaGrange on violin, and special guests the Dap-Kings.
Largely dedicated to his new son, the album begins with ‘Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)‘, a greeting to his newborn child (“Hello, my son / Welcome to this earth / You may not be my last, but you’ll always be my first”) with a string quartet that pivots into an Otis Redding-style burner featuring Brooklyn’s Dap-Kings brass crew, whom Simpson admired for their work with Amy Winehouse (of whom, coincidentally, I just watched the Oscar Award winning documentary on her rise and ultimate and tragic flame out).
From there, every song is complete winner and one could say, an excellent example of ’70s outlaw-country revivalism. The real big winners for me include ‘Keep It Between the Lines‘ (which offers solid advise on life in “Keep your head out of the clouds/And remember to be kind/And just stay in school/Stay off the drugs/And keep between the lines”), ‘Brace for Impact (Live a Little)‘, ‘Call to Arms‘ and – get this – his incredible take on Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom‘ which – I’ll say it – is fucking gorgeous with its slowed down tick-tock rhythm and grand piano melodies. Like his cover of ‘The Promise‘ on the 2014’s ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music‘, this version gives the song a whole new and invigorating perspective. I could go on and on about each and every track on the album, seriously.
It’s that good.
But I’m going to contain myself here because I’m likely going to be listening to it with a fresh ear over and over and over in the very near future and I don’t want to overdose on it just yet. So in that regard, my suggestion going forward is just to take my word for it and run out and grab a copy for yourself.
You won’t be disappointed.