Since leaving his 1990s' mainstream country music output in his tracks, Marty Stuart has been on an incredible run, both in terms of quality and quantity. Not only has he continued to perfect his rocking-yet-traditional brand of country music, but he has also released several well-regarded gospel albums. His latest double, "Saturday Night/Sunday Morning," gives a double helping of music that will please both secular and sacred music fans.
The country half is in keeping with Stuart's past work: A few choice classic country covers, a few contemporary songs that sound like they could have been classics and plenty of twanging electric guitar. "Geraldine" and "Jailhouse" are barnburners that show off Stuart's guitar chops, not to mention that of Kenny Vaughan. They fit along nicely with the likes of classic songs like "I'm Blue I'm Lonesome" (the second time Stuart has recorded it in his career). While Stuart's vocals have never been the focal point of his records, his version of "Life's Little Ups and Downs" is surprisingly strong and sentimental. For someone known as a honky-tonker, he can croon a fine ballad when needed. Tommy Emmanuel guests on "Streamline" to add blazing acoustic guitar licks.
The second album, Sunday Morning, is the real revelation, at least for those who have preconceptions of what gospel music is supposed to sound like. "Boogie Woogie Down the Jericho Road" (featuring Vaughan) and "Keep on the Firing Line" rock just as hard as anything on the Saturday Night album. They would sound completely at home in some dingy old roadhouse, even if the lyrics are more appropriate for the inside of a church. This album has its solemn moments - "Uncloudy Day" with Mavis Staples is gorgeous, as is the closing "Heaven," performed a capella. Along with Vaughan's solo, Paul Martin and Harry Stinson of the Fabulous Superlatives also get the chance to take lead vocals on their own gospel numbers.
Stuart never changes his style to make the gospel half of the collection sound cleaner or glossier, proving that the line between Saturday night and Sunday morning is thinner than most people think.