Thank God For Marty Stuart (Nashville Vol. 1 Review)

April 24, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  35 Comments

Whatever your country music question is, Marty Stuart is the answer.

Are you looking for more twang? Look to Marty Stuart. Do you want music that respects the roots? You want Marty Stuart. Are you searching for that one artist that can appeal to the young, to the old, to the hardcore country fans, to fans of country from the outside looking in, and whose appeal spans from gospel fans to punk kids? Then Marty Stuart is your man.

Marty Stuart is on an amazing roll ladies and gentlemen. What he’s doing right now with lead guitar player “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan and The Fabulous Superlatives is stuff that legends are made of. You know those periods in an artists’ career that you look back on like they can’t do wrong, churning out amazing songs and albums one after another? Hank Jr. from Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound to The Pressure Is On, Willie & Waylon after they’d shaken loose from the grips of RCA in the mid 70’s. That’s the kind of epic and influential period were in the midst of right now with Marty Stuart, and what a blessing it is to realize this and to be able to experience it all in the present instead of trying to relive it through the past.

Everything is firing on all cylinders, from Marty’s live show, to The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV, to his last album The Ghost Train, to now Nashville Vol. 1 – Tear The Woodpile Down. Say what you want about the Marty Stuart of the past, and who knows what the future will hold, but right now, as simply as it can be said, Marty Stuart is single handedly saving country music.

And this is no accident. Oh no. Marty knows exactly what he’s doing, and he knows exactly why it needs to be done. At some point he identified the need and then decided to roll up his sleeves, reach down deep into the roots of the music, and resurrect them with such fervor that nobody could ever accuse the music of being boring or outmoded or in need of progress.

First and foremost this is guitar music. Over-twangy, too-loud, sexy, dirty, evil, beautiful, in-your-face, unapologetic guitar music punching and kicking its way into you by-God American country soul until sitting down or standing still is no option. The dueling Telecaster work between Marty and Kenny Vaughan is something so tasteful and technically superior, it transcends the entire country genre to elevate these two men and the groove they evoke into the guitar god stratus.

Songs like “Tear The Woodpile Down”, the instrumental “Hollywood Boogie”, and the mandolin-driven “Truck Drivers’ Blues” (which you have to listen closely for the Mick Jagger-like “Uh!” in the intro) have the stones enough to make country converts out of rock fans. Marty’s gospel fan club may not want to hear it characterized like this, but there’s sex embedded in this music from its swagger. Its got balls, and don’t be thrown off by the silver hair, Marty brings a young, enthusiastic approach, winding you up in the intros, and then letting you go like a spinning top in a swirl of dizzying, Jerry Reed-style close guitar harmonies and hot lick tradeoffs.

But all this is just noise without the gift of good songwriting. Even the slow songs bring such passion, conveyed in the studio in no less measure than they would be live. That is what you get in songs like the subtle, but stabbing indictment of Music City “Sundown in Nashville” written by Dwayne Warwick, and sad songs like the Stuart-penned run that takes you toward the end of the album from “Going, Going, Gone” to “A Song of Sadness”. I can’t help but hear a little of the Dwight Yoakam, West Coast approach in these songs, and in the tear-jerking, swinging waltz “A Matter of Time”, the usually-composed and perfect Marty Stuart let’s his voice crack with emotion in one of the most stirring vocal performances I’ve heard from the man. With every one of The Fabulous Superlatives boasting superlative abilities at composing and performing harmonies, the only way to characterize the caliber of vocal performances on this album is “unfair.”

Something else remarkable about Nashville Vol. 1 is how similar it is to his previous The Ghost Train. Traditionally this is an unwise decision, but when you’re in such a groove and hitting on all cylinders, why shake it up? At some point the need for change will present itself, but for right now ride that groove until it’s worn out. What Marty has found with The Fabulous Superlatives is too good not to.

One of the great things about Marty Stuart is that he can be all things to all people. The gospel crowd can’t help but love him. Mainstream and young fans can’t help but pick up on the guitar work if they’re exposed to it. And even the punk and heavy metal country converts can find what they’re looking for here. Marty helps point them the way by including Hank Williams III on the final track, “Pictures From Life’s Other Side” written by Hank Sr. A perfect gospel tune sung with such heart and grace by both men, it chills your bones with the stark, ancient country language portraying a haunting, unveiled moral. Even without the loud Tele or the original songwriting that defines most of this album, this might be one of the album’s best tracks.

But let me waste no more time slaving away with mortal words trying to describe this music, just go listen. Get this album, listen to it loud and frequently, and save your country soul.

Thank God for Marty Stuart! (Please, somebody put that on a T-shirt. I’d buy two.)

Two guns way up!

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Preview & Purchase Tracks of Nashville, Vol. 1 – Tear The Woodpile Down

You can also listen to four complete songs, including the duet with Hank3 on Soundcloud.

35 Comments to “Thank God For Marty Stuart (Nashville Vol. 1 Review)”

  • I believe it’s “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan.

    • What did I put?!?

      Oh, screw me. Thanks for the heads up!

  • I couldn’t agree more with this review. This is an absolutely brilliant album.

  • Good Stuff…….“Pictures From Life’s Other Side” is a awesome song!! I will be getting this one for sure.

  • Two words… Hell Yes. I LOVE this album and I wholeheartedly agree, Thank God for Marty Stuart!

  • I’ll put this on to get list. Got to see Marty and Del McCoury under a rain soaked tent once at a bluegrass festival. it rained and they just moved under a tent. There were no mikes etc. What a great show we got!

  • Wow, Trig. You just sold me with that review.

  • yes, siree. outstanding. one i’ll for sure be buying.

  • Never really listened to Marty before. But I did really enjoy that video!

  • I have been a big fan of his for a long time, but I now I see him as more of a legend than Hank Jr. and Charlie Daniels. He has always kept his music new and fresh but also keeping it traditional, instead of rehashing his old stuff and releasing it over and over again on best of albums. He also seems to have his ear to the ground to underground country artists to notice artists such as Hank III, Elizabeth Cook, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Old Crow, Justin Townes Earle, and others on his show on RFDTV.

  • I preordered this blind based on the strength of Ghost Train, which is an absolute killer album. Based on this review, it looks like I won’t be disappointed.

  • You do have a couple of duets on the record. When you were recording “Picture From Life’s Other Side,” which was famously sung by Hank Williams [as his alter ego, Luke the Drifter], was there ever a surreal moment when you realized you were singing it with his grandson, Hank 3?

    Absolutely! It began right here in this warehouse. He did that on our television show. He came out here and he spotted his grandpa’s suit and said “Can I wear that?” So he put his grandpa’s suit on and when he came out around the corner, I just started laughing and went “Whoa!” I love him, he’s like my brother. Shelton [Hank 3’s first name] is like family to me. I support him in everything he’s doing. I’m honored that he did that song with me because he doesn’t turn his beam toward that old traditional side of his family very often, without good reason. I feel like we were both probably under the spell of his grandpa’s influence doing that because it’s as pure as it gets. It’s a treasure

  • Hot damn this is a great album I have been in a music funk but this and finding out about Sunday Valley brought me right out of it.

    Thanks Trigger

  • great review , great album…

  • I love ‘The Ghost Train’ and can’t wait to pick this one up. As Merle Haggard says on ‘Too Much Boogie Woogie’ – “I thank God for Marty Stuart, every time he’s through, and thanks to Willie Nelson and thanks to Emmylou…”

    • Ha! Maybe I subconsciously got the title for this article from Merle. Love that song.

      • And thanks to you Trig,I heard that album in it’s enterity right here for the first time when you posted it.Downloaded it the next morning! (Merle that is)

  • Looking forward to the album. Ghost Train was outstanding. For those in the Nashville area, there’s an album release party for this album on Friday or Saturday night at the refurbished Franklin Theatre so a good chance to see him in a very intimate setting.

  • Totally agree, he’s sounding great. I love the sound of ‘tear the woodpile down’ on that live video, what great live harmonies, love all the random bit of chat in it too! good post! Ashton Lane (http://www.ashtonlanemusic.com for 5 free songs)

  • Thank you for recognizing Marty’s tireless, passionate quest to keep REAL country alive. Every year we attend his Late Night Jam at the Ryman. Marty always invites legendary songwriters and artists from Country’s golden age, as well as new and upcoming country players who keep their sound firmly rooted in tradition. It’s an annual homage to the greatest music in the world and it comes straight from Marty’s heart.

    PS: And Marty always stays after the show to talk and sign autographs until every single fan is satisfied. Usually around the time the sun is coming up.

  • Good article. I admit, over the years I haven’t been a big fan, but I happened to catch him twice at different festivals in the last couple/three years and really enjoyed his shows. Made me pay a little more attention to his current body of work.

  • I’ve always liked Marty, ever since the Hillbilly Rock days, but I’d argue that what he’s done in the past few years will be what stands the test of time and ultimately defines his legacy. This album and Ghost Train somehow remind me of the Johnny Cash “American” album series.

  • Amen amen. You already said it,but thank God for Marty Stuart. Marty is the REAL deal….And what a great guy! He even let me play the Clarence tele once(and he sure didn’t have to).

    I can’t say enough good about him,the last record,and this one.

    All I can really say is TWAAAAAANG!

  • This is an outstanding album; easily the best I’ve heard this year.

  • Somebody actually keeping Country real,t HANK s for the post Triggerman.

  • Trigg! You just turned my mind around about Marty. Thanks bro’!

  • Hell yes, my man- couldn’t agree more! Marty Stuart is definitely helping save country music. He’s such a phenomenal talent, and has such a deep respect for where country music comes from. He’s a human encyclopedia of country music knowledge, and also happens to have a massive collection of country music memorabelia. I have some coffe table books of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, etc, and most of theo photos of the items in those books are credited to Stuart. I believe a ton of the stuff in the Country Music Hall Of Fame belongs to him, too. A friend of mine met him backstage after a show, and after talking music, Marty pulled out Clarence White’s original b-bender tele (which he had used during the show) and encouraged my buddy to play it, saying something along the lines of “Man, this thing needs to be played, not gathering dust in some collector’s closet!”

  • I would really love to hear Marty do a collaboration with Yoakam and do a tribute to west coast country. It would be the closest we could get to hearing Buck with Clarence.

  • “Something else remarkable about Nashville Vol. 1 is how similar it is to his previous The Ghost Train. Traditionally this is an unwise decision, but when you’re in such a groove and hitting on all cylinders, why shake it up?”

    I completely agree. I could even go for one more.

    Great liner notes from Marty, too.

  • “the most outlaw thing an artist can do nowadays is play traditional country music.”-Marty Stuart

  • This album is a must-have, I’ve known that since I downloaded the free title track from Marty’s site. I’m hopelessly addicted to “The Marty Stuart Show” on RFDTV, I grew up listening to classic country in my grandmother’s house, and had taken to listening to old heavy metal for new (to me) music that wasn’t fake and over-produced. Mainstream country music died and went to hell after the “hat-act” fad came and went. Then Marty Stuart started reviving a dead genre…

    This is easily the BEST band in all of music today.

  • I bought the download yesterday and I love it!

  • Got to see Marty and his Superlatives at Merlefest over the weekend. I’ve seen him before at other festivals, but I made sure to pay closer attention this time. I moved up front for a good view and to not be distracted by the non-attentive back-of-the-house crowd.

    What a great show. A little honky-tonk show dropped in the middle of an Americana festival. I loved it.

    I also picked up his last two CDs at the artist wares tent. While both are similar, on the first two/three listens, I find myself liking the new one (Woodpile) a little better. But both are definitely worth owning.

  • Excellent review and I agree wholeheartedly. Marty’s a beacon of integrity and plain old kick-ass music in a world that desperately needs both.

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