“Some day you’ll wake up and this life will be over,” Sturgill Simpson sings in “Brace for Impact (Live a Little),” the lead single from next month’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Released today, the song’s moody, murky music video expands that theme of mortality, as director Matt Mahurin mixes performance clips of Sturgill with grim illustrations of burning hearts, rapidly-aging humans, disembodied mouths, tombstones and — in one of the video’s most striking, Mad Max-worthy moments — a senior citizen driving a hot-rod coffin through a graveyard.
Mahurin kicked off his career as a videographer in the Eighties, when he won an MTV Video Music Award for his black-and-white treatment of R.E.M.’s “Orange Crush.” By the following decade, he was creating some of the grunge generation’s most iconic clips — including Metallica’s “The Unforgiven,” Bush’s “Everything Zen” and Alice in Chains’ “No Excuses” — with a style that often found him taking an inventive, left-field approach to macabre imagery. With its depictions of the grim reaper and sailing vessels to some unknowable afterlife, “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)” offers up a similarly creepy vibe.
There’s something more lurking beneath the video’s animation, though. It’s a sign that Simpson, whose Metamodern Sounds in Country Music won him the admiration of country fans looking for music that dove deeper than the norm, is reaching far beyond country music’s boundaries with his upcoming release. A Sailor’s Guide to Earth will be released April 15th.