Sturgill Simpson – “Brace For Impact (Live a Little)” (Singles Going Steady)

Sturgill Simpson's vocal laxity in "Brace for Impact" seems to contravene the command that gives the song its title.

Chris Ingalls: I like the swagger, I like the arrangement and instrumentation — subtle touches like the odd tambourine, a little Hammond organ here and there, even an oddly out-of-place Moog riff near the end — and it has a solid meat-and-potatoes feel to it that would appeal to both a classic rock fan and someone who isn’t beholden to lame contemporary mainstream country music. The song doesn’t have any dramatic twists, it just sort of… simmers. And that’s cool. [7/10]

Pryor Stroud: Hounded by an insistent, clawing-out-of-the-earth roots rock groove that sounds like the undergirding sludge-guitar from the Black Keys’ “Everlasting Light” was decelerated, powered down, and reprimanded for being too unadulteratedly anti-nihilistic, Sturgill Simpson’s vocal laxity in “Brace for Impact” seems to contravene the command that gives the song its title. A collision is imminent, but not a single nerve in Simpson’s body cares to tighten; he sings with a certain breathy, unhurried resignation, more evocative of the death-drive passions of blues than the blue-collar pieties of country, and seems to have accepted the fatalistic urge that the song hinges upon without putting up much of a fight. But a fight is there, subtly: the pendulous guitar cries, moody electro-tinges, and sleepless bass could be heard as Simpson’s hands testing the stormy waters depicted on the A Sailor’s Guide to Earth LP cover. The water stings, whipping against his fingers like needles blacksmithed by wind, but it’s precisely this stinging that reminds him — you — that the moments in which we feel most alive are often the ones that flirt the closest with death — or, at least, the illusion of it. [6/10]

Chad Miller: The melody doesn’t sound unique at all, and there’s nothing in the song to push it past its astounding mediocrity. Some guitar sections give the song a nice twist, but overall the song is just lacking in nearly every department. [5/10]

Sturgill Simpson‘s new album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, releases April 15th.