Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2005, Volume 12, #12
Written by T.J. Simon
Over the course of the past few months, music veteran Marty Stuart has released two distinctly different albums: Soulsí Chapel, with its healthy dose of harmony, is an old-time country gospel outing, and Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota is a serious concept effort that celebrates the history and culture of the Lakota Native American tribe. Both discs showcase Stuartís tremendous versatility as an artist and help to explain his longevity in an industry that, more often than not, favors youth and superficiality over depth and raw talent.
Soulsí Chapel is the stronger of the two albums, and throughout the highly enjoyable effort, Stuart whips classic country, blues, soul, and gospel into a frothy, Jesus-centric mix. His supporting band ("His Fabulous Superlatives") carries a lot of the weight on the beautiful harmonies of I Canít Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand) and Come into the House of the Lord. Stuart cites The Staple Singers as an influence, and he covers a pair of its heartfelt numbers Somebody Saved Me and Move Along Train. The best track, however, is the ultra-catchy original Way Down, a number with an energy so infectious that one can imagine Hasidic Jews and Islamic clerics being moved to stand up and testify.
For the creation of Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota, Stuart and producer John Carter Cash spent time living among the Lakota Tribe while touring sacred sites and places of the communityís many tragedies. Stuartís considerable empathy won him an adoption by the tribe, which granted him the name "O Yate O Chee YaíKa Hospita" or "Old Guy With Blow-Dried Hair." (Ok, itís actually "The Man Who Helps the People"). Musically, the disc is an uneven affair with captivating numbers such as Broken Promise Land and Casino standing alongside dull tunes that nevertheless house compelling stories (Trip to Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee). Stuartís criticisms of the American public policy toward Native Americans is valid, but itís not until he closes his mouth and lets the instruments speak on the brilliant instrumental Hotchkiss Gunnerís Lament that the message is received.
In short, fans of American country-gospel music peppered with a liberal dose of blues and soul will be enamored with Soulsí Chapel, and those with a particular interest in the history and mythology of the Lakota Tribe will certainly find something to like about Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota. In any case, everyone should be able to agree that the fact that Stuart released two such wildly different and ambitious albums in the same year is nothing short of remarkable.
Soulsí Chapel -
Badlands - Ĺ
Souls' Chapel is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box