Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Not only is Marty Stuart the man with the best hair in country music, he is one incredible musician. Way Out West is proof of that. Although this album is a bit of a departure from Stuart’s traditional country roots, this album is absolutely brilliant. This is like a mix of traditional and psychedelic country. Plenty of open space and atmospheric musical highlights are the hallmark of Way Out West. It doesn’t hurt to have a legendary guitar player in your band. That would be the great Kenny Vaughan, who is an absolute master on the guitar. Don’t get me wrong, Marty is no slouch on the ax either. He knows his way around a fretboard about as well as anyone.
The album starts off super trippy with Desert Prayer, Pt. 1 which is an instrumental track that contains some Native American chanting. It is a very powerful number that cruises perfectly into the next track, Mojave, which is another instrumental. This is part surf, part country, but 100% psychedelic. With as much atmosphere on this track as the desert itself, it sounds like a Dick Dale number.
Marty goes back to tradition on track 3, Lost In The Desert. A beautiful song about being lost in the desert and dying. I guess you can see it is bitter sweet. It is delivered in the 50s country style ala Marty Robbins. What differentiates this track from the 50s songs in still a little bit of airiness and some psychedelia. The surfy guitar fills and harmonies are absolutely divine. Like clear ,clean water. Pristine and beautiful.
Another amazing track is Torpedo (Track 10). This seems right out of Dick Dale’s or Link Ray’s play book. A twangy, surfy song that is worthy of a legend. The guitar work of Stuart and Vaughan make this instrumental track an instant classic. Up there with the likes of Miserlou. If Pulp Fiction were shot today, this song would surely be a worthy contender for that flick. This songs stands alone and will be a classic for sure, with or without a movie.
This is a super impressive gem from Marty and the boys. They took a risk departing from their normal traditional sound. This is one risk that paid off. Another incredible album for 2017 and we aren’t even out of March yet. This is going to be a banner year for music. Add Way Out West to the ever growing list of tremendous releases.
Listen to Way Out West on NPR
Buy Way Out West on Marty Stuart’s website