BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson, Marty Stuart is an American original, part of an older breed of tattered troubadours whose obvious affection for the essence of true and traditional country music is part and parcel of his inherent musical repertoire. So it’s no accident that his 18th studio album, Way Out West, becomes an unblemished token of his appreciation for the music’s timeless heritage.
Produced by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, the album is brimming with the vivid imagery of wide open spaces, stark landscapes and the classic visage of the great American west. Not surprisingly, much of it unfolds as a sprawling soundtrack that invokes that last great frontier, a dazzlingly orchestrated melange that would serve well as a Sergio Leone classic of the western cinematic variety. In fact, after opening with a brief Native American invocation, “Desert Prayer,” Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, launch straight into “Mojave,” a surf instrumental with overt spaghetti western flavorings.
When Stuart veers away from that format, he does so discreetly. The title track pits cowboys and Indians against outer space aliens in an eerie narrative laced with psychedelic suggestion. The staunch south of the border sounds of “Old Mexico” is stirred with authenticity and rugged romance, while the unfettered stomp of “Quicksand,” the rollicking rhythms of “Torpedo” and the robust delivery of “Time Don’t Wait” add their own air of authenticity, all of which affirm Stuart’s diehard devotion to his subject and his stature as one who has never lost faith in the form.
Incidentally, if you happen to be a vinyl aficionado, Stuart’s own Superlatone imprint is offering the wax version of the album—autographed, at that.
DOWNLOAD: “Old Mexico,” “Way Out West,” “Time Don’t Wait”