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Marty Stuart

Nashville: Volume 1 - Tear the Woodpile Down – 2012 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart lives and breathes country music. It's in his blood through associations with folks like Johnny Cash. He's a huge collector of country's history, a photographer, and, oh yeah, quite a fine musician.

Stuart returns for another superb disc of only 10 songs (that's the only criticism here in a tight 31 or so minute set) mixing his stellar, full-bodied Mississippi drawl vocals, great playing, an instrumental, a spoken word (not the first time he has done that) with a tamed Hank Williams III on Picture from Life's Other Side.

Stuart, of course, is more than ably backed by his great band, The Superlatives. That's evident right at the start with ace guitarist Kenny Vaughan laying down some great steely licks on the lead-off gospelly country song Tell. where Stuart sings with a sense of urgency. Vaughan, who is the glue that holds the Superlatives together time and again, is not just of the flashy variety (although he does provide them on the instrumental Hollywood Boogie, since he also laid down more textural licks on The Lonely Kind. Stuart gives a shout out to wife Connie Smith on a truck driving song .

The pedal steel comes to the fore with Vaughan's playing interspersed in the country ballad It's Only a Matter of Time. Quite clearly whether ballad, uptempo, honky tonk, gospel or bluesy, Stuart is comfy in all while stamping them with a Country sound. Read the very extensive liner notes Stuart penned as further proof of where his heart lies.

Stuart is a bit of a throwback these days - he's too good to knock what he may think are the failings of Nashville's hit making machinery. He doesn't need to these days. In fact, he pays homage to Music City - calling it a "country boy's Hollywood" and "where they sweep broken dreams off the street" in the mid-tempo Sundown in Nashville. Stuart simply makes great country music the old fashion way, and for that we have a lot be thankful for, once again, from country's foremost renaissance man.