Sturgill Simpson isn’t your average country singer. His breakthrough release from 2014 was called Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, and, though the music on his albums isn’t necessarily transcendent, the lyrical content is. (See “Turtles All The Way Down.”) His follow-up to that album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, seems to be charting that same atypical path, and features a stellar cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.”
One constant criticism of Nirvana was the intelligibility of Kurt Cobain’s vocals, and it was a thing that oftentimes obscured the brilliance of his writing. In Sturgill’s cover, the vocals are front and center, clear as day, and when paired with the spare playing of his backing band become pretty damn powerful.
It’s not news that Cobain’s lyrics are great — of course not. But it is nice to be reminded of how effective simple country playing can be, especially in an era when mainstream country music is almost purely pop.
Listen to Sturgill Simpson’s cover of “In Bloom” below. A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is due out April 15.