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Marty Stuart

Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best – 1996 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart continues developing his own version of new traditionalism here, perhaps with a bit more emphasis on his softer side than usual. As on past albums, his best tunes are the weird ones. "The Mississippi Mudcat and Sister Sheryl Crow" is a spoken-word song that features bluegrass "King" Jimmy Martin and his country music dogs, whose barks supposedly sound like country legends from Little Jimmy Dickens to Hank Williams. That song leads into "Rocket Ship," in which Marty takes his girl for a ride around the heavens. The surprising feature of this album, however, is its emphasis on love. When Stuart has a great groove to work with, as on the uptempo songs, "Thanks to You," "You Can't Stop Love" and particularly Del Shannon's "Sweet Love," he succeeds magnificently. Unfortunately, on the album's two slow songs, Stuart's shortcomings as a singer become quite apparent. "It might sound corny, old-fashioned and a little square," he sings in "So Many People," and at least on this song, the listener has to agree. Stuart has a knack for turning out very cool-sounding uptempo songs, and for the most part, he continues to mine that talent with success here.