This song was inspired by Ned Sublette's book, The World That Made New Orleans
, which is about the connection between Haiti, Cuba, New Orleans, and the colonial and African slaves whose paths crossed there. Frontman Joey Burns
explained to Consequence of Sound
: "It's a great book, and it got me thinking about this connection. I never realized there was such a strong connection in the past between these cities and countries. Having gone to Cuba, it reminded me of those parts of New Orleans that I love.You know," he continued, "a strong sense of music, a strong sense of African influence, strong colonial architecture and stuff… great food, great vibes. So, on one of the songs, I wanted to bridge that influence, and that wound up being the song 'Sinner in the Sea,' which was the first song that we were recording in Tucson that felt like we've finally arrived here at material that I think is defining the heart of this new record."