Sturgill Simpson Announces New Album “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” – Listen to New Song
This story has been updated.
Two days after posting a cryptic image of skeleton’s sparring on his website and social network properties, Sturgill Simpson conducted a rare and exclusive 3-minute interview on Beats 1 Radio with Zane Lowe, and announced his upcoming 3rd studio solo album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Sturgill also played a new song as part of the interview called “Brace For Impact,” and unveiled the official artwork for the album. Sturgill did not announce a release date for the album, but an iTunes pre-order showed up later in the day with a release date of April 15th.
“Well I approached the last record when it was finished, I kind of had this feeling that it might possibly destroy my career, and it did just the opposite,” Sturgill says in the interview. “So I figured if anything I had to sort of take the same fearlessness into the studio on this one as well. But really, there’s nothing intentional, it’s just a representation of where my heart and where my head were at the time when we went into the studio.”
As for what fans can expect from the new record, Sturgill says, “Like I’ve always said, I wanted to express a lot of other influences that are outside of country music, that I think there’s a lot of room to explore, in certain terms of sonic templates in the genre. If there was any intentional approach, I wanted to reverse engineer the songcraft. Country music especially can get very formulaic. You know, you have to have your verses and a bridge and a chorus, and a lot of the songs are written as just plain and simple poetry on the road. Then I decided I was going to frame those poems to music while in the studio.”
As for if the album will be a country record or not, Sturgill says,
“If you take a chance, and try to progess a little bit, which for me is what it’s all about you know. I had already made ‘Metamodern [Sounds in Country Music]’ so I didn’t want to make another psychedelic country record. But I’ve said it before: As soon as I open my mouth, it’s always going to be a country record … A lot of this record came from me figuring out my place in that world while it was all happening because it was such a sudden and intense transition around the same time that my son was born. I just wanted to do something really beautiful for him.”
You can listen to the full interview and the new song “Brace For Impact” below.
According to an new interview with The Fader with producer Dave Cobb, Sturgill Simson produced A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by himself.
“We started a new record in January, and, you know, he’d just got off tour,” Dave said. “We’re gonna try to go back in the summer. Our schedules didn’t line up, we just made some demos. He produced his upcoming one all by himself. It’s a real personal record. He’s a genius. He really is.”
As Sturgill Simpson fans wait for new music, they have already been delivered another new song. “Sugar Daddy” was selected as the theme song for HBO’s new series Vinyl, and was released in February as part of the soundtrack. According to the track list posted on iTunes, “Sugar Daddy will not be on A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. However it will contain a song from Sturgill’s Sunday Valley days called “Oh Sarah” that Sturgill regularly performs live, and a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” The record is also said to feature bagpipes, and an appearance by the Dap Kings.
- Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)
- Breakers Roar
- Keep It Between the Lines
- Sea Stories
- In Bloom
- Brace for Impact (Live a Little)
- All Around You
- Oh Sarah
- Call to Arms
Pre-Order A Sailor’s Guide To Earth on iTunes
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Thanks to readers Judd and Ryan for help with info and artwork.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:16 am
Hopefully the cell phone stuff ain’t included in the cover…otherwise it actually looks beautiful.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:01 pm
Ha! Well if it was, you could probably take it as a social commentary on the impact of technology on our lives. If nothing else, the artwork is gorgeous, and I can wait to see an unadulterated image of it, though it is good to know I still have 97% battery life.
I have to again thank the folks who were able to listen in and get us the info/artwork.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:29 pm
Thanks for putting it on here. I tried to listen live, but my phone is like me too damn old to be updated.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:17 am
I am so sad that I can’t listen until later this afternoon, but I gotta say – That album art is GREAT! ( I was going to say it’s bitchin, but I figure that makes me sound even lamer than usual, lol.)
March 3, 2016 @ 11:24 am
Is this a cover of Lunatic Fringe?
March 3, 2016 @ 1:10 pm
The first part of that outro melody sounds familiar, too. Can’t quite place it. . .
March 3, 2016 @ 3:15 pm
I did hear a similar melody to Lunatic Fringe in one part of the song.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:33 am
It is safe to say after this and the Sugar Daddy that Sturgill is not our country savior. This is two songs that in no way even slightly resemble country music. I like the music and it is not crap like a lot of stuff on the radio, but it is sure not country. It is more like a 70’s psychedelic rock style. Good music but no more country than a lot of the Nashville pop country.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:36 am
Yup. Another artist that can’t wait to “evolve” out of the genre that made him famous. It’s been nice, and we’ll always have High Top and Metamodern Sounds.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:04 pm
I’m pretty sure his musical ability made him famous. If you only buy country records, then don’t buy it.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:00 pm
Ok, so you don’t care if he switches to EDM or hip hop, or disco or acid jazz? After all, it’s his musical ability that made him famous.
I don’t have to buy music I don’t care for? Wow, thanks for that insight!
This is a country music website. Not only a country music website, but also one that dedicates much of its content to criticizing artists that deviate from a particular type of country music. So it’s hardly out of bounds to point out when an artist appears to be headed that direction.
The Vinyl song and this song sound like a lot of other rock songs. I don’t listen to a lot of rock music. Hence, I will give this album a listen when it’s released. If it’s a rock album (which it seems fairly clear it will be) I will not buy it, nor will I probably listen to it again unless it’s really, really, really good. In my humble estimation, this song is not, and neither is Sugar Daddy.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:36 pm
Obviously I can’t speak for everyone who visits this website, but I think the crux of most of the critics of modern Country music is less the EDM/Pop/Rock influence and more about how terrible the subject matter and songwriting of modern Country music is. I mean, Jason Isbell is beloved on this website and aside from a few songs here and there, the majority of his music is Southern Rock or straight up Americana/Alt-Rock, etc. etc. The same goes for another guy who is beloved here in Ray Wylie Hubbard or Willie Nelson, two artists who seem to change their musical styles and approaches from album to album.
Let me be clear I am not saying that Sturgill Simpson is on the level of Hubbard or Nelson, just that I think the issue that most fans have with modern Country music is less the “sound” of it and more the lack of craftsmanship, maturity and intelligence in the modern mainstream Country song.
I know he is pretty well loathed on this website, but that is part of the reason I like Eric Church. He is far from “Country”, but I respect the fact that the majority of songs actually seem written by someone above a 3rd or 4th grade intelligence level. The crap that Old Dominion is churning out feels like it was written by a bunch of horny 13 year olds who flunked out of middle school.
March 3, 2016 @ 8:05 pm
Hard to tell if your angle is that of a jilted ex boyfriend or an overly eager troll. Doesn’t matter…either way you come off as a butt hurt wannabe music critic.
Sturgill is famous because he’s sold thousands of records and sold out venues around the world the past couple years. His artistic abilities fuels those accomplishments but his fame and his talent are two different things. Let’s talk about talent…..or rather, your fucked obsession with labelling an artist who has defied lables.
It’s obvious you want Metamodern 2….whatever the fuck that could be. He has said, since that albums release, that his artistic growth is not dependant on genre. You have heard one song from an album (as there is no indication that Sugar Daddy is part of this new record) and fallen into the same trap in which all shitty music critics fall.
Who the hell knows what this album is? Who knows what genre? Who the fuck cares?
Once the mouth breathers realize that labeles are useless tools used to pigeonhole not only artists but fans, the sooner your burdens about Sturgill’s sound and direction will ease.
And not for nothin, but an EDM record made by Sturgill would be fucking awesome. He’s an artist, motherfucker. Jump on the boat and trust that the captain will safely steer you to your destination….or don’t. But please…don’t break your neck reaching for labeles or waste your time trying to convince others your right.
March 3, 2016 @ 10:41 pm
March 4, 2016 @ 5:47 am
Told you guys that he would go down the shitter. I should have my own site fuck.
March 4, 2016 @ 10:06 am
I think that remains to be seen.
March 4, 2016 @ 7:40 am
But please”¦don”™t break your neck reaching for labeles or waste your time trying to convince others your right.
And hopefully you don’t dislocate your shoulder as you pat yourself on the back for being the one who truly gets Captain Sturgill.
March 4, 2016 @ 8:32 am
this- this is why I don’t even bookmark this site. I love music. Not country music, but good music. Heartfelt music. Creative music. Inventive music. He has been all of these things and more. If what I have to look forward to from this guy is not “more of the same”, I’ll be all the happier for it. You should buy a Time Collection if you want to listen the same old shit from now until forever.
I like 1 in 5 things Trigger recommends- just enough to justify checking the site once in a while.
March 4, 2016 @ 9:59 am
If you don’t like many of my musical recommendations, especially if you’re only a country music fan from the outside looking in, that’s totally understandable. But please don’t hold the fact that I recommend country albums against me. After all, this site is called “Saving Country Music.”
For some reason there’s a lot of folks making gross mischaracterizations about me and the readers of this site in this comment thread, possibly stimulated by a message board post. I’d say it’s about 50/50 just in this comment thread of people saying “Oh, I wish it was country” and “Oh, get over it. Good music is good music.” People acting like this site or its readers will hate anything not country is ridiculous. And besides, I review non country music often here. I’m always trying to work to broaden perspectives. At the same time, it’s a country music website, so it will always be unfair to complain that the stuff I’m covering is too country.
March 4, 2016 @ 10:23 am
@JasonWaterfalls. I think you”™re off your meds. Let”™s see. “Jilted ex boyfriend.” Yes, you”™re right. You saw right through me. I am Sturgill”™s ex-homosexual lover. Your need to resort to this kind of garbage is the perfect opening to the rest of your barely-coherent rant. “Overly eager troll.” I”™m a troll for commenting that I like the artist”™s earlier music and I don”™t like the two rock songs he just released. And in a comment section that was designed for precisely such comments. Ok, pal.
I”™m a wannabe music critic? I think I made crystal clear that I was “humbly” stating my own opinion and my own preference.
I”™m obsessed with labellng the guy? Nope, sorry. I liked his earlier stuff. I don”™t like the last two songs he released. If you don”™t like that I don”™t like it, you are cordially invited to go fuck yourself. I want Metamodern 2? Nope. Metamodern was quite different from High Top, I liked them both, and he could undoubtedly do a third album different from both that I would like. These last two songs are bad rock and roll songs and not very original ones at that. My opinion. Don”™t like it? Again, see my earlier invitation.
Then you get into the douchepumpery of “artistic development,” “defying labels,” breaking down boundaries and all that other bullshit. Fuck you and fuck that garbage. I don”™t go to a steak house to get pizza. There is no question that Sturgill is where he is now because a critical mass of fans of a particular type of music loved his work, and in fact constantly likened him to deceased legend of that genre. “Hey man, it”™s all just music, man, screw the labels, man, it”™s all artistry, man.” Shove that pansy shit up your asshole.
You want to listen to a Sturgill EDM record? Fine by me. I posted MY opinion, which is that Sturgill is moving toward bad rock and roll and away from the music he”™s made that I enjoy. Why you give a flying fuck whether I continue to listen to him is beyond me, but it apparently jarred something loose in your brain. And all you other dickheads that can”™t stand to read someone else”™s opinion without flying into hysterics, fuck you too.
March 4, 2016 @ 2:12 pm
I don’t give a damn if you continue listening. The only thing I care less about is your humble opinions about SS, me, or anything else. If you could possibly make room in your own asshole, try shoving those opinions along with your hurt feelings.
Just because your precious ideas of what constitutes “good” and “bad” music doesn’t align with mine doesn’t free you from the very same criticism you direct at other artists.
The advice I gave previously stands…shake off your obsession with labels and allow the work to stand or fall on its own. And while I must pass on your generous invitation, you are more than welcome to go fuck yourself.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:46 am
Eh, I’ll wait to hear the whole album before passing judgment. I think he’s at least earned that much
March 3, 2016 @ 12:06 pm
Agreed. I think Sturgill did a good job explaining the influences and approach to this album, and it sounds like he didn’t set out to make a country album, but he didn’t set out to NOT make a country album either. From what I’m hearing, we can expect some country stuff of this record. Just how much we’ll have to wait and see. Obviously I’m a country fan and would like it to sound more country than less, but I’m not going to let that get in the way of good music. For all we know, this album could have all kinds of country songs on it. Or maybe it won’t. But life’s too short to start discounting music you haven’t even heard yet, especially when it’s from one of your favorite artists.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:35 am
Certainly much different than his previous records, which I knew was coming from just reading the tea leaves from Sturgill’s recent comments.
But I’ll reserve judgement until I hear the entire album. Still very excited to see what this album holds!
March 3, 2016 @ 11:39 am
I’m diggin it!
March 3, 2016 @ 11:50 am
Doesn’t sound like country. Better start putting him down, Trigger…
March 3, 2016 @ 12:11 pm
Critics who put down music they haven’t even heard yet aren’t long for this world. I haven’t even listened to the new song, I fast forwarded to the interview, and don’t intend to listen unless it’s released as a proper single. We’re all music fans first, and then our loyalties break down genre lines. I’d love for Sturgill to put out another hard country record, but more so I’d like him to put out the album he wants to. If he made this record for his son, and it’s good, then who are we to slam it just because it’s not country. Willie Nelson released “Stardust,” and the world didn’t end.
March 4, 2016 @ 8:39 am
You must have missed his critique of “Sugar Daddy”- Albeit I respect his response to you.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:52 am
I’ll withhold final judgement until I listen to the whole album, but Brace for Impact doesn’t sound very original and it’s a bit preachy for my tastes.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:53 am
Love that album art… Love the title…
Tried to find some samples of the OTHER songs on the record, but alas, it seems this is the only preview available. And this track just leaves me nonplussed. I started it over a few times but…
going by titles alone for the other tracks this still looks pretty exciting. “Sea Stories.” “All Around You.”
I don’t want to wait until June…
March 3, 2016 @ 6:02 pm
Big Sturgill fan, Fuzzy?
Also, I love that new avatar.
March 4, 2016 @ 6:14 am
I AM a big Sturgill fan!!!!!! Loved “Metamodern!!” His Sunday Valley stuff was sublime but “Metamodern” defied everything we knew about Sturgill AND about Country Music.
Thank you! I like this one better too!
March 4, 2016 @ 7:35 am
When I am excited about a release by an artist I like, I won’t listen to the singles or other songs that precede the full release. A perfect example is the Wild Feathers upcoming release. I loved their debut album (I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more attention on the site, frankly) and I have been waiting for three years for their sophomore effort, which comes out next week. There are four songs that are now available to hear, but I have not listen to any of them. The artists that I like are usually capable of putting together an artistic release. Therefore I want to hear the entire release, not just one song taken out of context.
I am doing the same thing here with respect to Sturgil. I did listen to the song from the vinyl soundtrack, mainly because it sounds to me like that will not be on the album (as seems to be confirmed above by the track listing) but I’ll skip listening tothe song embedded here and wait to hear the full release.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:57 am
Sturgill doesn’t owe me a country song or album. He is drawing people who would have never given country music a chance. Just because he isn’t speaking to you at this moment doesn’t mean the conversation is over, he is simply speaking to someone else. I trust him to deliver great music and he always has.
Bigfoot is Real (and is back from the mountain)
March 3, 2016 @ 11:58 am
Oasis meets Waylon. Love it.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:03 pm
Anybody else having trouble getting the link for the song to play? I press the play button and both time stamps go to 00:00.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:06 pm
I really am ready to hear the entire album. People need to stop worrying. This album will be good. The last 2 were very good. I don’t see him going backwards in quality. His sound may evolve some. WE STILL HAVE WHITEY MORGAN OUT THERE MAKING TRADITIONAL COUNTRY.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:11 pm
I like the new tune. Is it country, not by my standards but its a cool track. I’m seeing Sturgill coming out somewhat like Ryan Bingham did, album wise. Not that I’m comparing the two as the same artist, but Bingham got quite a bit of praise for how Mescalito sounded and was more country then we had seen in a while. Again, Bingham never rose to the success as Sturgill but just like this songs shows a new direction, Bingham did the same thing with Roadhouse Sun and pretty much every album after. I can respect an artist for doing what they want and how they want to do it. I get the impression that Sturgill really doesn’t want the torch, he just wants to play music. I’m sure others will beat him to death for this, but this is still better than 90% of the crap out there.
I’ll wait for the entire album to come out to make my final judgment. Another similar artist that has thrown us curve balls is Robert Earl Keen. He has pretty much bucked the system on what people think he should do and he comes out with whatever he is feeling at the moment. I’ll take this over water down, lets make a hit crap. The hits will come, they just may not be on the radio or be chart toppers.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:19 pm
Not country, but man I am diggin’ this. I still think there will be some country tracks on the record. One thing is for certain: no matter what type of music Sturgill plays, he’s always going to kill it.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:26 pm
I like it.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:34 pm
Too noisy. It sounds like what Jeff Tweedy did when they tried to pigionhole him into alt country/Americana and we ended up with a ghost is born. It felt different and compelling but it also felt contrived. Sounds like he’s trying to fix something that isn’t broken. I’ll give the rest of the album the consideration it deserves, but right now, I’m not feeling it.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:36 pm
March 3, 2016 @ 1:01 pm
Hey, “booooooo” is written with 7 os.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:55 pm
Did anyone expect another High Top Mountain or Metamodern?
He has said for a long time that he’s not interested in making similar records. I don’t necessarily like it when an artist puts out new music and it would fit seamlessly on a previous record.
March 3, 2016 @ 12:57 pm
Decent track. Not sonically surprising, given the context – as others here have observed, it falls more in line with “Sugar Daddy” than any of his previous recordings – but my real gripe is that it’s not very lyrically surprising, either. For whatever reason, our culture is already rife with trite songs and statements of the “you’ve only got one life, now live it, YOLO” variety. One of Sturgill’s best traits is that he’s read enough, and apparently felt enough, to restructure common sentiment in new, interesting, and impressive ways. That’s what identifies him as a fresh and vital artist. But there’s not much fresh and vital about his message in “Live a Little” in terms of substance and phrasing. Hopefully his creative energies are a little more creative in the rest of this album. Still really, really looking forward to it.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:10 pm
Excellent critique, What makes country music so country is the ability to tell those narratives and bring to light stories that people can relate to in new and interesting ways. I agree with your critique but it usually takes me a couple of spins to have the words and meanings of songs (particularly Sturgill’s) sink in.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:32 pm
I appreciate that. And I agree with you that country’s enduring appeal (and importance) is that it’s essentially a democratic genre. It takes human universals and distills them into raw, accessible form. That’s what makes it invulnerable to attack from the high-browed.
Except for pop country. Doesn’t apply to pop country.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:07 pm
Did Dave Cobb produce this or not? I don’t see cum stains all over it, so I had to ask.
Sounds pretty frickin’ good! Very interested!!
March 3, 2016 @ 1:09 pm
The music on the new record might not be more “psychedelic country” (as Sturgill put it) but the cover and title fit that description.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:34 pm
Reminds me of Dio’s Holy Diver album cover…
Or, maybe, its the last thing Thomas Kinkade painted before he offed himself…
March 3, 2016 @ 1:41 pm
Reminds me of a lot of stuff I saw in San Francisco in the late 60s (and yea, I was there, which dates me pretty severely, I realize).
March 3, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
Yes, it’s been down too long in the Midnight Sea…
March 3, 2016 @ 1:16 pm
Dave Cobb when asked if he produced Sturgill’s new album in an interview with The Fader:
“We started a new record in January, and, you know, he’d just got off tour. We”™re gonna try to go back in the summer. Our schedules didn’t line up, we just made some demos. He produced his upcoming one all by himself. It”™s a real personal record. He’s a genius. He really is.”
March 3, 2016 @ 2:18 pm
Yes, was just reading that. This would validate some of the rumors that there was a split between Cobb and Sturgill during the recording, even though there’s a picture of them together in the studio from last spring, so at some point they tried to give it the heave ho together.
March 3, 2016 @ 6:01 pm
Could that account for why this one skipped 2015? Not that Sturgill ever really confirmed anything for last year, but perhaps he was waiting for Cobb’s schedule to align and just decided to handle it himself? Him doing both jobs could have also added to the time table as well.
March 3, 2016 @ 8:23 pm
That’s a possibility. I think most of us were under the assumption the album was done in the spring when a picture of Sturgill with Cobb in the studio was circulated. Moving it to summer for recording makes a lot more sense of why this took a little longer to come out. But like Sturgill said, he wanted to take six months off and spend time with his family. The guy has been going full throttle and had a child. The six months with his family was ultimately the delay.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:27 pm
Anybody know when you can buy the single?
March 3, 2016 @ 2:20 pm
We don’t have an indication if this will be released as a single just yet. If it does come available for sale I’ll try to let folks know.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:28 pm
Got slide, so I like it 🙂
March 3, 2016 @ 1:39 pm
I think it’s excellent. Can’t wait for the album. Sturgill is such an outstanding artist.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:50 pm
Depending on the rest of the album Sturgill may be like the Mavericks, forget just being labeled a country artist he just going out there making music that feels right and the people like. And that’s fine by me.
March 3, 2016 @ 1:54 pm
Between this and “Sugar Daddy” I have to say I’m impressed. Granted it’s only 2 songs so far but I’m not put off by the direction of these two songs. Even if the rest of the album is like this, I think I’ll like it. After all, I am a rock guy before a country guy so I’m really digging this.
March 3, 2016 @ 2:02 pm
I’m not sure “Sugar Daddy” will be on his next album. If he does, it may simply be a “hidden track” or something, It probably doesn’t fit well with the rest of the material on this upcoming album since it was specifically made for the TV show.
March 3, 2016 @ 2:27 pm
Never say never. This new song does have a lot of similarities to “Sugar Daddy.” If it is in the new album, cool. If not, no big deal. Until the album comes out though, we won’t really know.
March 3, 2016 @ 9:49 pm
You were right. Unless it’s a hidden track, “Sugar Daddy” is not on the album.
March 3, 2016 @ 2:08 pm
I could see Don Henley singing this.
Toby in AK
March 3, 2016 @ 2:10 pm
Simpson has warned us all along that he is not out to save country music. We can’t really be butt-hurt when he fails to become the hero we imagined he’d be.
I personally don’t hear a country song. I don’t expect a country record either based on reading the tea leaves. I do hear some pretty good music in this song (don’t care much for sugar daddy) and I’ll withhold judgement on the rest of it until the album comes out.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:07 pm
He’s the hero country music deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll shit all over him for trying something new, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:44 pm
Word. Sturgill is Batman.
Cool Lester Smooth
March 3, 2016 @ 4:37 pm
And Isbell is Supes?
I can get behind that.
Toby in AK
March 3, 2016 @ 3:57 pm
Better him than me.
March 3, 2016 @ 2:10 pm
Why does it sound like a Joe Walsh/Don Felder guitar riff??
Can’t wait til this is released. Can’t remember ever anticipating a new albums release like this one…
March 3, 2016 @ 7:39 pm
It reminds me of “Victim of Love” quite a bit on first listen. Glad I’m not the only lunatic out here picking that up
March 3, 2016 @ 2:21 pm
Doesn’t sound as good as his other stuff, but I like it.
March 3, 2016 @ 2:31 pm
I love country, blues, bluegrass, classic rock, stoner rock, punk rock and everything in between. I love listening to this as much as something off of high top mountain. He’s a roots guy, with many influences. I think “everyone” likes to think he’s a simpleton with his drawl but he’s really a well read musician with a lot more to be said than how country he sounds. Just listening to the old Sunday Valley stuff, through now, Sturgill hasn’t stayed the same. He’s been changing constantly his entire career and I like everything he’s done. Can’t wait for the new music.
March 3, 2016 @ 2:40 pm
It may grow on me… but at first listen it sounds too layered with too much going on. Definitely not country… I think our savior likely abandoned us.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:18 pm
It’s a good rock song. Can’t say I love it on first listen.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:37 pm
Not country, but I’m a sucker for 70s-style rock so I’m intrigued.
March 3, 2016 @ 3:44 pm
I didn’t care for Sugar Daddy, but I really really like this one. It’s not traditional country music at all, but it’s GOOD. Damn good. Major difference between what the bros are doing to the genre. I’m not sure what people are up in arms about, Sturgill has always said he would continue to experiment with his sound. Can’t wait to hear the whole album!
March 3, 2016 @ 4:03 pm
It’s really interesting to watch the bandwagon fanbase criticize an artist they herald as an outlaw and a non-conformist. I’m sure it’s fun to support a rebel, until you actually realize they are…indeed…a rebel! Keep Rockin’ Sturgill! Keep making Great Music! Screw conforming to any genre!
March 3, 2016 @ 8:01 pm
Ding. Ding. Ding.
Couldn’t be more well said. It’s a f’ing joke people want a repeat of everything. Repeat albums are what Luke Bryan does. I think this is a kick ass sound. I hope he continues to get even weirder
March 3, 2016 @ 8:12 pm
I completely agree.
March 4, 2016 @ 6:53 am
Is it the bandwagon fanbase? Or are some of them hard core country fans and maybe long time readers of SCM who were Sturgill fans/supporters when he was largely unknown?
March 4, 2016 @ 10:04 am
You have every right as a country fan to be disappointed if an artist makes a non country album. At the same time, you owe it to that artist to still give the music a chance. Sturgill said a lot of things about helping to preserve the roots of country early in his career (and I’m sure I’ll be bringing these up in the future), so going in the opposite direction is a sea change.
All that said though, nobody knows how “country” this album is going to be yet. It could have two, three, four, five strong country songs on it when all’s said and done. Or it may not have one. We just don’t know, so many of these arguments are presumptive. Sturgill seemed to even say in his comments that he couldn’t help but to be country every time he opens his mouth.
March 4, 2016 @ 11:16 am
I’ve been a fan since Sunday Valley. I’ve been reading SCM for years. I actually have a sealed copy of their CD I got at the SCM sponsored Anti-SXSW show 5 years ago (Yeah…I know…I think I’m pretty cool too). It’s been exciting to watch his base grow. He deserves it. However, the bigger the base, the more pressure he will have to stay the same.
Strugill is not your average musician. Most high profile musicians are talented performers. Not only is he a great performer…more than that, he is what most musicians want to be… a creative genius. It is rare. He’ll never be satisfied repeating what has already been done…listen to his interviews…he has been saying this…warning bells for all of the masses. He doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into being the savior of country music. Sounds like a lot of people just don’t want to believe that.. Stop him from creating new ideas, new sounds…a guy like this will just hang it up. He doesn’t want to be the savior of anything. Go back and listen all of his music, then come back and tell me this song is an unexpected departure from who he is as a musician. Listen to the songs, pay attention to the variation, enjoy the ride for what it is. It’s a roller coaster, not a Sunday stroll down the beach. Embrace the fact you can’t predict what’s next!
March 4, 2016 @ 2:51 pm
It’s even more generic than that. Regardless of genre, I t’s the “that artist is the coolest and he should be better known, at least until others figure it out and he becomes known, then that same artist is a sellout that sucks” syndrome. All hipsters do it. It’ll hit Stapleton shortly too. Ask pearl jam and g’n’r about it, they’ll tell you. Personally I stay a fan when they get popular unless the music becomes generic and geared towards the masses. Pearl Jam’s Vs and G’n’R’s Use Illusion, the follow ups to the albums that broke them, were as hard hitting, antisocial and uncommercial as the debuts, if not more so, but the bandwagoneers that catapulted them to success with their debuts had already abandoned them for the next big thing (or next unknown big thing). Not me, I stuck around and heard more great tunes. I expect the same will happen to Simpson and Stapleton, but I’ll still be here ready to hear the great stuff they put out even if the hipsters and bandwagoneers have moved on.
March 5, 2016 @ 7:57 am
Marky Mark, a person who is a long time Sturgill fan is the opposite of a bandwagoneer. A bandwagoneer is basically a frontrunner.
It really should come as no surprise that on a site called “Saving Country Music,” some long time fans might not welcome the possibility of Sturgill moving away from country music. And branding such people as hipsters just seems reflexive and self-congratulatory to me. I’m willing to support a music artist that I like if they go in a different direction, but only so far. I don’t love this new song, but it’s in a style that I like. I’ve been a rock fan a good deal longer than I’ve been a country fan. However, if he was to come out with an EDM album and added a DJ to his band, then I would be out, because I don’t like that particular genre at all. I would continue to enjoy his first two albums and hope for something better the next time.
March 4, 2016 @ 7:16 am
Kinda like “The revolutionaries of today are the old guard of tomorrow” thing? Or whatever the hell that quote is…
March 3, 2016 @ 4:21 pm
I was never really a Sturgill fan and struggle to understand the attraction . This song isn’t helping .
March 3, 2016 @ 4:44 pm
I’m withholding on hearing the song until I hear it in the context of the album.
That being said, wasn’t there also rumors that Sturgill would push his music in a more EDM direction at one point? I’ll certainly take Rock over that, but that’s just my 2 cents.
March 3, 2016 @ 4:53 pm
Not a fan. If this song were sung by someone else, half the people here would bash it. But, since it’s Sturgill, it will be labeled the greatest ever and creative. I’m even hearing people use the “music must evolve” bs from the same ones who trash Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, etc when they “evolve”. I loved his previous work, but this is just awful for me.
March 3, 2016 @ 5:16 pm
I like it. It doesn’t have to be a certain genre for me to like it. I am curious as to who did the cover art. I’m a sucker for great album art. It’s something you don’t see a lot of anymore.
March 3, 2016 @ 6:10 pm
I’m conflicted about this. I know that I’ve often described myself as being on the fence when it comes to this guy (I suppose I just never drank any of that kool-aid his fans did), but I’m actively disappointed that he’s consciously moving away from traditional country. I mean, if you play it for a decade or so, I could understand wanting to try something different. But just his third album? With the second one already half-way outside of country music? That’s disconcerting, to say the least. Say what you want about Zac Brown and all of that “Beautiful Drug” nonsense, but I got the sense that he felt he had said what he had to say with country and was moving on to what he felt were greener pastures (and how one interprets that green, be it monetary or artistic, is up to the individual). With Sturgill I just feel like he’s gotten too big for his britches. Does that mean it won’t be good? Of course not, but I’m still conflicted about it. It’s really going to bother me if this doesn’t turn out to be any more country than this first song and the majority of commenters around here that normally bash mainstream artists for what amounts to the same thing eat this crap up and don’t grasp the irony or hypocrisy. Like, seriously; that’s enough to make me draw lines in the sand. I don’t care if it’s “good” or not.
Fantastic album cover, though, even if it serves as a nice indicator of the self-indulgence of the project going forward (please prove me wrong, Mr. Simpson).
March 3, 2016 @ 8:28 pm
Not to disagree with your underlying pint Acca because I believe it’s a fair concern and you bring a good perspective to it. But Sturgill released his first album with Sunday Valley back in 2004. So he has been going at this for quite a while.
Also, when I or others who may happen to read this site take exception with Sam Hunt or Luke Bryan, it’s not just because they’re not country. It’s also because of the quality of the music. Jason Isbell isn’t particularly country, and neither are some of the Southern Rock and Americana bands I cover. But it’s still good music. So it’s not necessarily hypocrisy if you decide to like Sturgill’s music, even if it’s not country. I work full time writing for a country music website, but I still listen to other types of music. I love all music, as long as it’s made with heart. Hell I nominated a hip-hop album last year for Album of the Year. Would I prefer a Sturgill country album? Probably. But I want a good Sturgill album overall. There’s plenty of albums released every year that are REAL country, and they’re terrible because all they’re focused on is being as country as they can.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:49 pm
Well, I still have an issue with that, primarily because both of us know that there are plenty of critics of modern country that are lamenting the lack of fiddles and steel over the lyrical content. That the lyrics and subject matter is often rapped and auto-tuned these days in the mainstream only serves to kick more dirt in our eyes. That said, as I’ve often iterated here and elsewhere, I don’t believe in objective quality when it comes to art for the most part. With certain exceptions, I don’t think there’s “good” and “bad,” only what you like and don’t like. What speaks to you and what doesn’t. I hate rap not because I think it’s bad music, but because I don’t like the style. By the same token, I hate modern radio country because I hate the style. Unless something is broken about the work (out-of-tune, shoddy production, otherwise poorly executed and unprofessional), I don’t consider there to be a basis for “bad” art. There are plenty of people out there that love modern country music and wouldn’t like the stuff we do even if they were aware of it, and I highly doubt that all of them are like that just because they’ve been brainwashed or something. That said, what something is and isn’t is an entirely different story. The other half of the reasoning most of us have for disliking mainstream country music is that it isn’t country on average.
Overall, this is to say I believe in a level playing field: I don’t think Sturgill should be graded on any sort of curve just because he’s more within the wheelhouse of traditional country fans than Florida-Georgia Line, nor given any sort of pass. If he’s supposed to be country music, I want to hear country music. If he’s supposed to be cross over rock and roll, then I want to hear cross over rock and roll. And if he’s just an auteur that goes where his muse leads him, all well and good. But I got the impression that he wanted to make true blue country music at first, but now he’s catering to the readers of Pitchfork with “intelligent” music. But, you know, since he’s indie and people think he sings like Waylon and all it’s okay if he throws out the rulebook. But oh no, someone in the mainstream does that, burn them at the stake because their music is “bad.”
I know that it’s rarely, if ever, that simple. But this splitting of hairs drives me crazy. There’s no objective criteria to judge art by, no matter how much mainstream critics and smartypants music fans might champion themselves as the purveyors of taste. To me art is art, and you either like it or don’t. As such I can’t stand for folks that sit back and cast judgement on two different artists that are doing what amounts to the same thing and citing “quality” as a delineation. But that’s an unpopular opinion, so perhaps I’M the one who’s crazy.
March 4, 2016 @ 10:22 am
Thoughtful observations AC. For the most part I’d have to agree with them . However I do believe that there’s value in preserving and passing down traditions …artistic and cultural . And REAL country music with its traditions of theme , instrumentation , unique vocal stylings , harmonizing and rhythms etc needs to transcend commercial viability and entertainment worth on the basis of cultural importance alone. Yes , some people will be touched and connect to the traditions of the genre more than others , in the same way opera might resonate with one person and not another . SCM has taken this mission as its mandate as have so many other like-minded writers , bloggers, journalists and , of course , music artists and filmakers .I think the options need to be there and supported in order that people might always have the opportunity to learn and be moved or inspired by them . Thank goodness Sierra Hull and Chris Thile had the opportunity to listen to Bill Monroes’s bluegrass music long after it was ” commerrcially viable ” . Thank goodness major cities support symphonies that allow generation after generation to be exposed to classical works 200 years after they were written while never having been as lucrative a musical venture as other genres .. I appreciate and understand spiritually why SCM has importance in a dollar-driven world . I feel an obligation to supporting its aims in preserving the traditions and importance of a musical art form based in integrity, substance and the passion and dedication of its purveyors . Country radio has deserted the genre and opted to chase dollars and trends and a more easily targeted youthful demographic with music of little or no substance , musicainas and vocalists of very questionable skills and the use of technology to assist in their shell game . Not cool ….not honest , not sustainable and not vital to anyone in terms of its historic , cultural or inspirational quotient.
March 4, 2016 @ 1:23 pm
I think you’re crossing my wires a bit. I wholeheartedly agree that tradition is a great thing. I’m also one to champion a bit of pure progressivism now and again. I’ve been among the mob that’s lighting torches and slinging feces at the mainstream more times than I care to count. What I have issue with is just what I iterated above: I don’t like double standards.
It’s not as though I feel that most folks do it on purpose; it’s a natural reflex to defend what you enjoy and bash what you don’t. That’s all fine and dandy, and I’m not trying to pretend like I’ve never fallen into that trap myself (on this very site, no less). But staying in touch with the roots of the music is a far more complicated and nuanced issue than “good” and “bad” quality. Sturgill cut his teeth as a country artist, and as I said before I don’t begrudge anyone a change of pace, this story and the way it’s unfolding is just leaving a sour taste in my mouth. Truth be told I’m often torn for the need of an artist to grow and do their own thing and to adhere to tradition. But there’s a fine line there, and I feel like Sturgill is crossing it way too soon. Some of the people around here that complain about Chris Stapleton not being “country enough” are eating up this psychedelic Rush meets Waylon stuff in the preview track. Is that not just as damaging to country’s roots as a hip hop beat? “No” you say to yourself, “because it’s good music.” Well hell, if we’re only here to find something that tickles our ears what’s the use in arguing about the style? There’s a reason Luke Bryan has so many fans, and it ain’t because they think his music is “bad.”
If it helps to explain my perspective, I’m complaining about an imperfection in a well-documented imperfect world. There’s no real resolution or answer to the issue I’m voicing, and there never will be. I’ve just never cared for the “my music is good that’s why it’s popular” and “your music is bad and people just have bad taste”-type arguments. Art in and of itself is subjective; where it fits into the pantheon of the form as a whole is not. I might use the words “good” and “bad” to express my feelings, but it’s just a less eloquent and more to-the-point way of saying I just don’t like something. Sturgill’s fans might eat this stuff up, and he has every right to reap those rewards, but that don’t make it country nor innately “better” than anything else that’s carpetbagging it’s way into this genre.
Bringing it back to Luke Bryan, it’s a commonly accepted opinion that his debut album was more or less solid modern country. Does that suddenly make it okay that he went in another direction? No? Then why should it be for Sturgill? Just because he makes “intelligent” music about drugs and people think he sounds like Waylon? Not hardly. He’s catering a different audience with a new style and last I checked that was called “selling out” everywhere else (assuming he never comes back).
March 3, 2016 @ 8:40 pm
You say “just his third album” as if the dude’s barely pushing 25. You know the guy’s pushing 40, right? Do you even logic, bruh?
March 3, 2016 @ 8:56 pm
Yes, I was aware he’s pushing 40, and this is only his third solo album, as I said. Age is irrelevant to number of albums; the recently deceased Randy Howard was older than Sturgill an he’d only released about four studio works in almost three decades of his career. Furthermore, your interpretation of my statements is irrelevant, and on top of that all you did was help make my point. I feel like three albums is too soon for someone “change it up,” regardless of how old they are.
Do you even irony, bruh?
March 3, 2016 @ 6:14 pm
Fuck, this is “It Ain’t All Flowers” all over again. I’ll warm up to it eventually, being that it’s still very good music, but it’s gonna take a while for the country fan in me to get completely on board with this.
Artwork is pretty awesome though.
March 3, 2016 @ 6:59 pm
This song sucks so bad- melody is terrible. He’s searching for something sonically unique but that something is a pile of dogshit in the yard.
March 3, 2016 @ 7:08 pm
I like this. I this is really, really solid.
March 3, 2016 @ 7:48 pm
I’m a huge fan of what Sturgill has done to date, Sunday Valley through Metamodern. They have all been different, and I’ve found something I’ve liked in each of them. I’m liking this a lot. There is almost a touch of Pink Floyd in there, which I’m totally good with considering I’m a fan of classic rock as well.
March 4, 2016 @ 5:40 am
I was thinking of Pink Floyd too when listening to this and was wondering if anybody else got that feel.
March 3, 2016 @ 8:09 pm
Definitely excited- that artwork is beautiful. Like I said before, I don’t care how traditional this album is, as long as it doesn’t have a pop feel. But judging from this interview, that isn’t going to happen. Good first track too- not what I was expecting, but good.
March 3, 2016 @ 8:10 pm
fantastic tune. Who played the guitars? Bet he played them himself.
I am definitley Looking forward to this new album.
March 3, 2016 @ 8:32 pm
Not great but certainly not terrible. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this new album will be that he can do much, much better. He can’t just abandon the unique country sound he’s established, and he probably won’t, but these two recent released indicate that he’s moving away from it, and to think that we’ll love the music regardless is taking his fans for granted, in my opinion. I’m sure it will be quality music and not dreck, regardless, but I feel that we deserve an album that is distinctly country even with all of his other influences.
March 3, 2016 @ 9:15 pm
As a bullheaded, dyed-in-the-wool purist, I don’t like it. But then again I don’t have to. Not gonna jump the gun and start bitching about what the album might sound like based on this song, just gonna say I don’t like it. In the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that”.
March 3, 2016 @ 9:16 pm
Well, as a bullheaded, dyed-in-the-wool purist, I don’t like it. But then again I don’t have to. Not gonna jump the gun and start bitching about what the album might sound like based on this song, just gonna say I don’t like it. In the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that”.
March 3, 2016 @ 9:41 pm
FYI folks, the story has been updated with the (likely) release date of April 15th, track list, pre-order link to iTunes where you get “Brace For Impact” upon purchase or can purchase individually etc. etc.
March 3, 2016 @ 10:14 pm
Yes it is there!! I just purchased it. I will reserve judgement until I can hear the entire album. I like all kinds of music, so if it is not country enough for me, I will file it under alternative or rock or wherever it belongs. The important thing is that the power is in the hands of the artist, and not the record company!
March 3, 2016 @ 10:14 pm
I LOVE this. A lot of depth and growth. Anyone who has seen him headline n the last 4 months saw this direction. He’s not afraid to open up and stretch the band out in a jam; then switch into Lefty Frizzell. Good on ya Sturg.
March 3, 2016 @ 11:01 pm
Based off that song I’m definitely not pre-ordering. I think I’ll wait to see what the finished album sounds like before getting it.
March 4, 2016 @ 6:17 am
Well I’m late to the party because I just got a chance to check it out, and I’m actually somewhat surprised to say I LOVE IT, and I’m really excited to hear more of the album!
March 4, 2016 @ 7:02 am
I really hope In Bloom is a Nirvana cover!
March 4, 2016 @ 7:04 am
I like it so far, I definitely don’t hate it. Same feelings, I want sturgill country more than sturgill experimentation led Zeppelin, bad company, southern rock. But he still is great and this song is pretty cool.
March 4, 2016 @ 7:13 am
Like many have said before me, what is important about Sturgill’s music tends to be subject matter. That’s why you can forgive him if he strays from traditional country. I can’t wait to hear the whole album, and I find the track list to be very interesting. Obviously track 9 will be about his wife, and wondering if track 1 will be about his son? If that’s the case I expect both of those songs to be very powerful. Sturgill had covers on his last 2 albums, any chance one of those songs may be as well?
March 4, 2016 @ 7:24 am
March 4, 2016 @ 8:29 am
Oh Sarah is one of my favorite songs by him from the Sunday Valley album. Glad to see it made the album although it’s probably reworked.
March 4, 2016 @ 8:56 am
“In Bloom”. Wonder if that’s gonna be a cover of Nirvana. Or an original with the same title. If it is a cover, I can’t wait to hear it. And it would definitely indicate that this album is gonna be more rock heavy than country
March 4, 2016 @ 9:47 am
Yes, it’s a Nirvana cover.
March 4, 2016 @ 9:08 am
We have an album drop date — April 15th!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miFepGMB55Q
March 4, 2016 @ 9:15 am
release date is April 15th. Just announced on Facebook.
March 4, 2016 @ 9:47 am
As the information has trickled out here over the past 24 hours, but I have been updating this particular article, and will continue to update the article until we have ALL the known info about the album. The release date of April 15th, track list, iTunes pre-order was all updated yesterday evening, and the YouTube player was added this morning, along with the info that “In Bloom” is indeed a Nirvana cover, and other info. I’ve been scouring the internet, and whatever information that is available is here, or will be added here shortly.
March 4, 2016 @ 9:20 am
Trigger, I noticed that this song is on Youtube now. I would assume Sturgill is the one who released it. Doesn’t seem bootleg if you wanted to listen or post the link since the other one doesn’t work for a lot of us.
March 4, 2016 @ 10:04 am
Every time I see a conversation like this on Saving Country Music — which, for the record, is the website that introduced me to Sturgill Simpson and a slew of other artists — I’m reminded of something that Neil Gaiman (yes, my nerd is vast and extends to realms outside country music) once said about George R.R. Martin: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” It was in response to a letter from a fan who felt entitled to GRRM’s artistic output and its lack of timeliness. This is a persistent and debilitating issue within the fandom of any artform.
Sturgill Simpson is not beholden to us — he’s beholden to his art and his personal responsibilities. If his art veers off into territories we don’t like as fans, fine. Don’t buy it. You are not obligated to do so. If Sturgill loses you as a fan, odds are someone else who likes the new art better than the old will step into your spot in the crowd. Maybe more than one someone. Sturgill Simpson is not your bitch.
The Gaiman item is worth a read even if you aren’t a nerd: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html
March 4, 2016 @ 10:37 am
This is absolutely correct. So is the converse. Sturgill’s fans are not his bitch. If he does something that some of them don’t like, they are not obligated to praise it just because it comes from him. I don’t know why everyone construes a negative comment as some sort of call to have the artist drawn and quartered and forced to conform their music to a certain genre. It’s not. It’s either “I like this,” or “I don’t like that.” Pretty simple.
March 4, 2016 @ 11:07 am
A valid point, BJones, but Sturgill isn’t demanding his fans like everything he does. Some of the comments here and elsewhere are pretty insistent that Sturgill go back to doing what they like instead of following his art (it almost feels like some are calling him a Benedict Arnold for betraying the label of country savior he never wanted). I’m sure Sturgill is aware that some of the fans of his more traditional country sound will be alienated, but he isn’t sitting in interviews telling them they have to like it and buy it. It’s one thing to declare your dislike for something, it’a another thing to demand that an artist stay stagnant to appease your tastes.
March 4, 2016 @ 11:16 am
I’m not saying that HE is demanding it. I’m saying that THE PEOPLE ON THIS BOARD seem to be demanding that everyone else accept whatever he puts out and validate his “artistic journey.” He can release whatever the hell he wants, and people can like it or not. If you like Sugar Daddy and Brace for Impact, I’m happy you enjoy it. I don’t enjoy it, but I wish the guy well with the new fans he will undoubtedly draw from this move.
March 4, 2016 @ 11:44 am
Agreed (except that I like the new song). To put a finer point on it, I guess we might say that “Sturgill fans are not other Sturgill fans’ bitch.”
March 4, 2016 @ 1:48 pm
See, this is the problem I have. Saving Country Music is not a “board.” It is a website. I write articles, and people comment on those articles. From the beginning, I’ve tried to develop a robust comment culture because I believe EVERYONE’S opinion counts. But it’s not a board, and I don’t think it is fair to me, this site, or its readers to generalize.
Furthermore, the majority of comments I am seeing are of people saying they are find with Sturgill doing whatever he wants, regardless of genre. Yes, there are outliers and people who want Sturgill to stay country, but can you blame them? First, look at the name of the site. Second, Sturgill put out two incredible country records. I just think this site and its readers are being mischaracterized here. I think there lots of diverse thought and discussion going on here from both sides, and this is a healthy thing. It’s “boards” (many of which have linked to this article) that are making it seem like there’s a bunch of fans here who refuse to like anything from Sturgill unless it’s country.
Toby in ak
March 4, 2016 @ 10:07 am
I just noticed the tracks for this. I expect Oh Sarah will be my favorite. Genuinely happy to hear what he does to it.
March 4, 2016 @ 10:08 am
If you haven’t listened to Sturgill on Joe Rogan’s podcast you definitely should. It’s long but worth a listen.
March 4, 2016 @ 10:11 am
This song seems very much in line with the live shows.. a bit more jammy and grooving.. I’m genuinely excited that he is pushing the envelope a little and that the lp includes a Nirvana cover and the Dap Kings, bagpipes makes me think this is going to be bonkers… at least he is trying to swing for the fences here…
March 4, 2016 @ 10:41 am
Anyone wanna bet his 4th album is a straight up bluegrass record?
March 4, 2016 @ 10:46 am
we can only hope, daveyboy.
March 4, 2016 @ 12:07 pm
Where does this get played? How does it get exposed? Who comes to shows where these songs get played? Honestly, I think Sturgill can make whatever he wants but it doesn’t mean anybody will be there to listen to it. Should probably withhold judgement like Trigger but a sneak peak release is there to be pre-judged.
March 4, 2016 @ 3:12 pm
I really like this song by Sturgill, and I really like the artwork on the cover of his new cd.
March 7, 2016 @ 9:53 am