A Sailor's Guide to Earth
Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2016 Ratings: #21 / 721
Year End Rank: #26
User Score
Based on 237 ratings
2016 Ratings: #30
Your Review



Simpson ... seems hell-bent on disassembling the genre and piecing it back together the only way that sounds right to him. While the best of the best learn to master country music, he's turning it into a whole new monster, one that's his and his only.

Pretty Much Amazing

Compared to the industry standard, A Sailor’s Guide feels at least five years too early. Artists spend decades working up to the level of instrumental variety and emotional awareness that Simpson seems to comprehend at his core.

Entertainment Weekly
Overall, the album is strikingly intimate. At times, it feels like you’ve somehow found yourself in the singer’s hallway, listening as he coos lullabies to his child in a nursery.

Afforded creative freedom many felt would be stifled, Simpson’s latest musical offspring is a love letter we can all cherish.

Simpson hasn’t abandoned country – he’s just made it big enough to contain all he wants to do. The man’s only boundary now is the horizon.

As a whole, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is simultaneously eclectic and of a piece: It’s big and bold and sometimes messy, but never unfocused.

Slant Magazine

Even beyond the chances Simpson takes, A Sailor's Guide to Earth remains a sonically stunning album.


It's an old-fashioned concept album, one that tells a story -- it's a letter to his newborn son, telling him how to become a man -- and is dressed in garish art suited to the side of a Chevy van.


Simpson invests this bold, widescreen music with such heartfelt and real pathos and joy that it announces him as a major talent, and makes A Sailor’s Guide To Earth so rewarding.

Rolling Stone

Sailor's Guide is classic album length – nine songs, 39 minutes – and best heard in one sitting; this is Nashville craft less as pop science than as expansive headphone storytelling.

The Guardian
It’s hardly a revolutionary album, but its melding of styles ... gives it a fresh, unsullied feeling.
It's a deeply personal album that, while establishing Simpson as the defining songwriter of his class, displays an artistic growth that defies any sort of easy label.
The Independent

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth ranges over issues of love, depression and identity with hard-won wisdom. A skilled interpreter, Simpson’s bruised baritone murmur morphs to fit the contours of each song.

The Needle Drop
Singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson comes through with the classiest country album I've heard in a while.
Consequence of Sound

Written for one lucky baby boy, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth also welcomes the unmarried, infertile, abandoned, and middle-aged with unconditional love. If Father’s Day is just another Sunday, let Simpson be your proxy.


On Earth, Simpson continues to have fun flipping the genre’s tropes on their head.

Apr 13, 2016
Sturgill Simpson continues his rise as the most creative and distinct country artist of his generation, now with an interesting release that follows the idea of his previous album, while incorporating elements from other genres such as rock, psychedelic-music, folk and soul. The result is another solid record full of surprises, with a different approach to country in each track. It is quite varied, but very cohesive, nonetheless, and even though the final results may not be just as emotive and ... read more
Jan 8, 2018
I'm not sure I've heard an aquatic, Naval country album before. But this is, undeniably, it. And it's exquisite. This is a personal record that was made for Sturgill's family, but we were given the great privilege of being allowed to listen in.

I love this whole thing. I love it so much.
Mar 27, 2017
Fav Tracks:Keep It Between the Lines, In Bloom
Feb 15, 2017
To all of the country artists who talk big about pushing the boundaries of the genre -- THIS is how you do that! Sturgill Simpson manages to incorporate significant soul, Southern rock, and alternative influences into this album while still sounding completely country -- the cover of "in Bloom" is one of the highlights. The concept of explaining the world to the child initially threatens to be overbearing, but is handled quite nicely. Glad to see this getting the attention it's been ... read more
Dec 29, 2016
- Impact / listenability= 8
- creativity / musicianship = 8.5
- consistency = 7.5
- recording (1/2) = 7.5
- feel factor (1/2) = 8
- overall = 79.4

Bold and brave. A true crossover album. Just a bit inconsistent for me to catapult this among my year end best albums. Excellent tracks throughout.
Track List
  1. Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)
  2. Breakers Roar
  3. Keep It Between the Lines
  4. Sea Stories
  5. In Bloom
  6. Brace for Impact (Live a Little)
  7. All Around You
  8. Oh Sarah
  9. Call to Arms

Added on: March 4, 2016