Though the album title and Spalding's appearance on the front cover dressed as a 19th century seaman might lead you to expect an album of exclusively nautical material, The Rambling Sailor has a lot more than sea shanties. Sure, there are sailor songs here, but Spalding also rambles through material by Stephen Foster; plays a Cajun two-step; and also miscellaneous Dutch, Scandinavian, and Welsh tunes. Simon plays an amazing variety of instruments, the most obscure of which is the Welsh Crwth. (Spalding is a weird-instrument wonk and presumably couldn't resist the chance to show off on an instrument so obscure that most musicians don't even know what it is, let alone how to play it.) On The Rambling Sailor Spalding shows the variety of influences that have formed his musical sensibility, and though the stylistic leaps may disconcert some people, the album works as an introduction to a wide-ranging and eclectic talent.
AllMusic Review by Richard Foss