Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives - Altitude
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Altitude (Snakefarm, 2023)

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives opens with an instrumental, "Lost Byrd Space Train (Scene 1)," which is a nicely twisted way to phrase the musical roads Stuart travels. Stuart's music incorporates a whole lot of good stuff from traditional country to bluegrass to jangly, Byrds-y rock – and so much more. All of these sounds, and many others, inspired the 14 songs filling out this strong effort.

Stuart gets to the jangling part right away, with a contemplative, Roger McGuinn-ish number three tracks in, "Sitting Alone." He follows that up – as only he can – with the surf music-influenced "A Friend Of Mine." Lyrically, this aforementioned one speaks to relatability. If you've experienced life the way he has, where you fall just short of your goals and ambitions at times, you might just make for a suitable Stuart friend. Stuart's "Secret Agent Man"-esque guitar fills on it are, well, superlative.

Then there's "Vegas," which features Stuart inhabiting a Bakersfield-ian Buck Owens musical personality. Lyrically, the song explores that mythical Siren song in the desert we call Las Vegas. With most anyone else, such huge stylistic jumps might come off schizophrenic. Not so with Stuart, though, as he loves all his sonic children equally.

Stuart returns to the "Lost Byrd" scene two more times, including an epilogue that closes out the album. Just before one last stop at "Lost Byrd," though, Stuart performs a quiet, simple ballad called "The Angels Came Down," which adds a spiritual note to the project. No matter the stylistic outfit Stuart wears, though, every track incorporates plenty of tasty picking. "Tomahawk" finds Stuart plucking fiercely, as he paraphrases the Book of Ecclesiastes' statement of how there is "absolutely nothing underneath the sun." Yes, there's also nothing new – sonically speaking – on Marty Stuart's latest. Instead, he's taken the tried and true, infused it with spunk and true talent, and given us one monster of a guitar album. This is how it's done, kids.

CDs by Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Altitude, 2023 Live at the Ryman, 2006

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