Now, I’m usually not fond of country music, so I might not be the best person to review “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” nominated for two 2017 Grammy Awards: Best Country Album and Album of the Year. Actually, maybe I’m the perfect person to review this album, because when I say I thoroughly enjoyed the music Sturgill Simpson came up with, that’s really saying something for me.
This album, aside from the tunes, has a touching backstory. Simpson draws on his past experience of being stationed at a naval base in Japan. The album is artistically constructed around the idea of a sailor writing letters to his newborn son and wife at home, which adds a pleasant narrative aspect to tie each song together.
This year, Simpson’s work will have to face off against Drake, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Adele and Beyoncé for Album of the Year. This year marks the third time an album of Simpson’s has been nominated for a Grammy. Last time, in 2013, “Metamodern Sounds” earned recognition as a nominee for Best Americana Album. I have not listened to “Metamodern Sounds,” but I might now that I’ve listened to “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.”
What really stood out to me about this album is that, despite the country-esque vocals and vowel pronunciations, the musical backing was very eclectic. I was surprised at the uniqueness of this album since I had never listened to anything Simpson released prior. Simpson represents a whole genre I was never aware existed: “alt-country,” which is just as intriguing as it sounds.
At first, I didn’t think the voice of the singer matched the music in the background. But the more I listened, the more the album grew on me. “Oh Sarah” is probably my personal favorite on the album, as it’s a beautiful, musing song, perfect for relaxing in the afternoon. If you like country with a dark, almost haunting twist, then you should definitely give this album a listen.
If you’re interested in viewing Simpson in action on stage, the singer will be performing live at this year’s Grammys, along with Little Big Town, Chance the Rapper, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (to name a few).
It’s worth noting that this year’s Grammys are controversial, since a few celebrities will be boycotting the event, their reason being that the pool of nominees isn’t diverse enough. Among those who will not be in attendance include Bieber, Kanye West and Frank Ocean.
The 59th Annual Grammy Awards are set to commence Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. on CBS. They are hosted by thespian and accomplished entertainer James Cordon. Cordon hosted the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards this past year, which proved to be extremely enjoyable. You might recognize him from his very popular show “Car Karaoke,” which features notable figures ranging from Bruno Mars to Michelle Obama.
Regardless of why you watch the Grammys, whether it be for Simpson, Cordon or to judge outfit selections showcased on the red carpet, it is nice to always remember that the awards ceremony is meant to honor musicians who work hard and offer something of significance to our pop culture.
Doménica Castro is a first-year student majoring in theater. She can be reached at DC874612@wcupa.edu.