Entry #7 – Marty Stuart’s ‘Way Out West’ Is Quite The Journey

Not since Slackeye Slim’s 2011 masterpiece¬†El Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadola¬†have I heard an album embrace a Western theme and do it this damn well. I’ll admit, this album has really sunk in with me more and more with every listen, and right about now I’d say it’s a high mark for 2017 albums.

Marty really is a true innovator for country music, and in terms of the true “evolution” of country music, Marty and his Fabulous Superlatives are doing a fantastic job. Now, unlike Slim’s album, this isn’t an album anchored by an overarching story of Western culture. Instead, it’s the mood it creates that will hook you in.

Now, upon my first dozen or so listens of this album, that kind of bothered me. As much as the instrumentation and production is very colorful, I did wish for some type of overarching story. But really, I’m not sure what else to say other than – I was being a picky prick.

There are some cool stories on this album such as the weird as hell (in a good way) title track as well as “Lost On The Desert”, but really, that’s not the point. Again, the focus is on the mood, and the best way to describe it is dark and dusty, with some incredible highs, especially during the middle – “Air Mail Special” is extremely fun, as is “Torpedo”. “Please Don’t Say Goodbye” is my favorite song on the record. It’s got the type of 60’s sound to it that features some cool harmonies, and the thing is it doesn’t feel “old” or stuck in the past. The biggest and best way you can describe Marty is “cool” and that’s what that song is.

“Whole Lotta Highway” is a nice homage to Marty’s career up to that point as well as where he’s going, and the reprise of the title track at the end gives a nice end to the journey, and that’s what this album is, a journey. You can’t have a critical mindset when approaching this. There’s some music that eclipses that, and this is one of those special moments.

Now, what keeps this from five stars? In all honesty, some of the instrumentals like “Quicksand” and “Desert Prayer” (both parts) don’t feel as essential to the project as say, “Torpedo” and “El Fantasma del Toro” do. Again, I get that these nitpicks feel inessential, but really, it could have been just a tad tighter if the fat was cut. But aside from that, it’s getting…

FOUR AND A HALF STARS – For being cool as all hell and a grand representation of how freakin’ cool country music can be.

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