Release Date: Apr 24, 2012
Record label: Sugar Hill
Genre(s): Bluegrass, Country, Americana, Contemporary Country, New Traditionalist, Country-Rock, Traditional Bluegrass, Progressive Country, Honky Tonk, Traditional Country
Country music prodigy Marty Stuart has just released his 17th studio album. After 40-plus years in the business, the former boy wonder goes back to a style made popular before he was born or when he was just a youth—what’s known as Classic Country. Think of the Grand Old Opry of the ‘50s and ‘60s for comparison. The nine original songs contain echoes of popular Nashville trucker songs, weepers, and rave-ups, and the tenth is a cover of “Picture From Life’s Other Side”, famously recorded by Hank Williams.
Marty Stuart knows country music. He knows country music because he loves it, and he's musically explored the folk, gospel, and blues roots of it. He also understands what was happening for a brief time in the 1950s when country and rockabilly were still the same thing. Stuart's brand of hillbilly country, which mixes all of this together, somehow comes out sounding deeply traditional and yet surprisingly contemporary at the same time, and he's well aware of what he's doing.
Marty Stuart returns with this marvelous, if frustratingly brief, 30 minute album of traditional styled county originals. His appropriately named Fabulous Superlatives touring band is joined by a few guests, but this batch of wonderful songs that wrap themselves around oft-recorded C&W topics of truck driving, heartaches and lots of loneliness captures a rootsy groove that’ll make you forget all of Nashville’s slick qualities and love country and western all over again. In that sense it’s a continuation of Stuart’s career.
In the latter half of his career, Marty Stuart has positioned himself as one of the most vocal champions for traditional country music, carving out a comfortable niche for himself as one of Nashville’s most historically minded artists and a fixture on the Grand Ole Opry stage. While there’s certainly considerable value in Stuart’s ability to preserve the genre conventions that so many of contemporary country music’s biggest stars either routinely overlook or never knew existed in the first place, his aesthetic has become predictable. Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down is an expertly performed collection of traditional country songs that aren’t substantively different from the music Stuart has been making for well over a decade now.