If someone had told me that Sturgill Simpson is Van Morrison’s son I would have whole-heartedly believed him or her. The resemblance in voice and song are uncanny. Simpson is an under the radar rising star, although his music has been gaining notice from our friends to the south ever since his debut 2013 release of High Top Mountain. Incidentally, half of his upcoming concert dates are already sold out.
Simpson’s latest release, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth featuring cameos by The Dap-Kings, may be his strongest release to date. The album is supposed to highlight Sturgill’s mercurial ups and downs, an ode to his 2-year-old son. “Ok, I’m gonna go make this really pure and beautiful thing for my son and incorporate all this music that I loved, outside of and other than country or bluegrass,’ which is all I’ve really had a chance to represent up until now.”
Simpson’s screechy industrial song Sugar Daddy is the theme song to the Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger-produced TV show, Vinyl; and it’s so uncharacteristic of the songs found on this CD. The new album features nine tracks. The opening number Welcome to Earth (Pollywog) welcomes his son to the world, with light keyboard runs into a lilting melody. Breakers Roar is a typical country song along the lines of what you would expect from Waylon Jennings. Keep It Between the Lines initiates the Van Morrison within Simpson’s soul. The remainder of the CD glides effortlessly from one song to the next. By the way, so far this is my favorite album of the year. Pick this one up at your local record / CD store
Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)
Keep It Between the Lines
Brace for Impact (Live a Little) – Nirvana
All Around You
Call to Arms