Sound — 10
Marty and his Superlatives took a neotraditionalist approach when recording this album, keeping the solid traditions laid down by those that recorded in the historic Studio B 60 years before him. Stuart plays acoustic and electric guitar at an extraordinary level. When listening to Kenny Vaughan play electric guitar on the album, it's enough to make you wonder how Marty ever managed to make good music without him - it's as though the Superlatives have always been there. Ralph Mooney's legendary steel guitar playing conjures up memories of country music from long ago, and the instrumental version of 'Crazy Arms' is enough to put a satisfied grin on the face of any country fan who knows their Hank from their Garth. The album has all of the styles that Stuart has played up to this point in his career, including traditional country ('A World Without You', 'Bridge Washed Out', Drifting Apart'), rockabilly ('Country Boy Rock & Roll'), outlaw(ish) country ('Branded') and of course, bluegrass ('Mississippi Railroad Blues'). All in all a wonderful album, showing once again that Marty Stuart has a scary amount of talent... more talent than one man alone should be allowed to have.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are, as always, to be commended. However, I feel that they are not quite on par with the masterpiece that Stuart created ten or so years ago with 'The Pilgrim'. Don't get me wrong, the lyrics are good, a whole lot better than most of the crap-tastic country music getting produced nowadays. But for me, none of Stuart's lyrics can compare to anything he done on 'The Pilgrim', as that was without a doubt his finest work, both lyrically and musically.
Overall Impression — 10
I would say that next to 'The Pilgrim', this is Marty Stuart's best album ever. I would even go so far as to say that this is better than 'The Pilgrim', as at least with this album you can play it in any order, whereas with the other album it made absolutely no sense unless you played it front to back. The album is a wonderful tribute to tradition, yet also a shining light towards the future of country music. This album is the light at the end of the tunnel, a beacon of hope telling all country fans that the genre may find its way back to the fundamentals that made it great in the first place. Finest country album of the year, one of the finest country albums of the decade, and definitely in the top 5 country albums of all time.