Sturgill Simpson successfully covers Nirvana by lowering the intensity, which somehow deepens the impact.
Steve Horowitz: Sturgill Simpson successfully covers Nirvana by lowering the intensity, which somehow deepens the impact. Singing quietly about selling the kids for food and liking to shoot guns may just be metaphoric, but they are powerful nonetheless. The Magritte-inspired video captures the weirdness of it all. It’s cool, but the song doesn’t need pictures to stimulate. The song is freaking awesome. [9/10]
Emmanuel Elone: Sturgill Simpson took a big risk in covering this classic Nirvana song, but sadly it just doesn't pay off. The country instrumentation is bland, and Simpson's voice isblunted and passionless, especially when compared to Kurt Cobain's. Somehow, even though the instrumentation is quieter on this cover than the original, it's harder to make out the lyrics than on the original song. I give credit for Sturgill taking a big risk, but the result is bland, mediocre, and only leaves me wanting to turn it off so I can revisit the original. [3/10]
Chad Miller: Beautiful cover. It succeeds most when it's subdued. Reveling in the pretty instrumentation that almost gives off a tropical feel early on. By the end though he shakes things up. I feel like the big ending had potential, but seems somewhat lacking in passion and energy. [7/10]
Chris Ingalls: Nirvana covers are everywhere, and a lot of them aren't worth much, but Simpson proves that he's a strong, unique voice in the alt-country, or outlaw country, or whatever genre they're calling him. Giving this classic song a rewrite could come off as gimmicky, but by switching the style from slow-burn grunge to a steady, simmering, sophisticated quasi-Americana ballad is the right move. Simpson is a master at holding back at all the right spots and letting loose only when necessary, he uses a gentle hand here, with beautiful instrumental touches that clearly sound reverent to the song while reinventing it. [8/10]
Pryor Stroud: Another cut from A Sailor's Guide to Earth, "In Bloom" is a restrained psych-country Nirvana cover that showcases the gravely ardor of Simpson's roots-rock warble. Complete with slide guitar, back-porch percussion, and even a climactic brass flourish, it takes Cobain's critique of superficial fandom and drops it into some backwoods community known for recreational violence and relationships that mature faster than the people that comprise them. "And he likes to shoot his gun", Simpson sings, but now this gun isn't just an emblem for faux-hipster torturedness, it's a deadly implement, so the fact that the man who wields it doesn't "know what it means to love someone" adds a layer of menace to the lyric that wasn't there before. What is a man capable of when he doesn't understand -- or has forgotten -- love's implications and antecedents? Why does the singer find it so important to note this man's trigger-happiness? What sort of lovers' exchange is about to take place? It's unclear, but the agonies running through Simpson's voice suggest that, whatever happens, tragedy will be involved. [6/10]
Sturgill Simpson‘s new album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, releases April 15th.