Marty Stuart

Way Out West

(Superlatone/HumpHead Records)

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives were one of the great highlight acts at the Country2Country Festival over here. Not only that but Marty had a Q&A at the showing of a documentary film about the first recordings of country music. At a later press conference I got him to explain about his gigging with Byrd Roger McGuinn and quite a tale that is, too. But this new album tells you all you really need to know about this artist’s band, talent, songcraft and musicianship.

Way Out West is a trip and a half, produced by someone who understands roots music and how to record guitar tones – Heartbreakers guitar ace Mike Campbell. He and the Stuart ensemble, who can all sing and play to a very high standard but have fun doing so have put together a record that roams from style to style and sonic peak to sonic peak. There are psychedelic overtones here and there, befitting for the man who carries the late Byrd Clarence White’s b-bender Telecaster onstage each show and plays the back off it! Stuart knows everything about Country Music, having toured with Johnny Cash for years BUT has his own imagination and musical scope so as not to sound like a curator..much more a creator.

Desert Prayer Pt 1 brings us eerie midnight desert sounds, setting the mood before the pounding drums and clipped guitars topped by wavering electric guitar leadlines take the listener through the instrumental Mojave which recalls The Ventures in their heyday. Lost On The Desert is acoustic guitar based and the rich vocals float over a waltz tempo and an almost Marty Robbins lyric. The amp tremelo’d guitar sounds urgent and effective as the tale of a tussle with Satan unfolds…

Title track Way Out West evokes a fabulous and shadowy vibe as the guitar figures dance like fireflies around the stealthy rhythm – masterful musicianship. Marty intones a tale of substance-induced erratic travel. His voice is perfect for this, the narrator tells of flying saucers and Indian chiefs as the axes twinkle with crystal clarity ; El Fantasma Del Toro has a dramatic Hispanic start then the acoustic guitars weave with pedal steel threading through over a soft Border rhythm ; Old Mexico is a steady-rolling ballad handled gently and the most wrung from the melody. This album is going from mood to mood, heavy to light and all between.

Time Won’t Wait is an absolute gem – a pacy electric Gene Clark-style rocker, drenched in weaving Telecaster and chiming Rickenbacker 360 12-string notes ringing out over a memorable chorus. Fantastic! Quicksand nods to Link Wray, with tremelo’d guitar stabs and a martial drumbeat. Air Mail Special is a fast rocker with an Albert Lee spring in the step tempo, the ensemble singing is once again superb.

Torpedo is a frantic guitar instrumental that sounds like a lost Dakotas cut, I kid you not ; Please Don’t Say Goodbye is an electric ballad with acoustic chords sprinkled across the verses like rose petals. A sad song but beautifully handled, the eerie strings are a fine touch. Whole Lotta Highway is a crackling country rock number with sharp lyrics as befits a tale likes this. The Tele solo is elegiac and biting, tom toms pattering behind it. Desert Prayer Pt 2 is a cool vocal version of the earlier tune. Wait For The Morning is another showcase for this group’s excellent singers to shine over a laidback slow song; Way Out West (Reprise) is a booming Big Country-theme version of the starting piece.

So here we have one of the finest and most colourful and varied Country Rock collections ever put out, filled to the brim with exquisite guitar work that always plays up the needs of the song – as such I can only recommend it as a record you will play for years to come.

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks Jo, congratulations Marty)

Feature Image Photo Credit: Paul Clampin 

Marty Stuart’s new studio album ‘Way Out West’ is out now on Superlatone/HumpHead Records.

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2ogTOoa

Marty Stuart