Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (from the album Way Out West)
Albums are reflections in the life of their artist. Following that theme, Marty Stuart found his thoughts immersed in points on the map that drew a line to the Southwest parts of the United States on his latest release, Way Out West. Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives bring the hidden beauty of the desert to life. To the naked eye, the sands that stretch from Texas and into California by way of New Mexico and Arizona are dry and desolate, dotted with forlorn towns inhabited by ghosts as much as they are home to hard-edged humans carving out an existence on the far reaches of civilization. Way Out West does not rely on what the eyes can see as Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives provide color commentary in words and music. The band backs the story of “Old Mexico” with quiet tempos of hushed beats and whispered guitar lines as they head south seeking freedom while they get a dose of the natural highs of the desert on the mescaline and peyote soaked fantasies in the title track.
The secret ingredient on Way Out West is a band that backs the tracks as a unit rather than individual players. Marty Stuart is a natural storyteller that speaks to listeners rather than at them and comfortably fits his words into the music. The true sign of the talent found in The Fabulous Superlatives is how the A-list players never have the need to showcase their expertise as they become an ensemble supporting the songs. Harry Stinson (drums) and Chris Scruggs (bass, pedal steel, electric/acoustic guitars) create a subtle rhythm as a foundation on Way Out West as the lead guitar notes and strums of Kenny Vaughan weave and writhe, snake and swirl across the album.
Wordless visions are found in the multiple instrumentals included as part of Way Out West. The band presents a “Desert Prayer” as an airy soundscape haunted by chants and sonic winds for “Part 1” with hums and harmonies making up “Part 2”. “El Fantasma del Toro” corrals Spanish melody lines, “Quicksand” lets the power of searing notes and pounded rhythms rise up like waves of heat, “Torpedo” takes careful aim on sharp angles of notes and chords, and “Mojave” flows with dreams of other sands hit by waves of surf music. Way Out West advises that “Time Don’t Wait”, finds refuge in the classic Cowboy Country for “Lost in the Desert”, and embraces a new day with reveries of home on the muted music drifting through “Wait for the Morning”. As traveling troubadours, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives find themselves in a dark night in the middle of nowhere and share the road in the truck driver’s tale of “Whole Lotta Highway (with a Million Miles to Go) as they are airborne on the purr of flying beats heading coast to coast in “Air Mail Special”.