Best Albums of 2005

In the Nashville Scene's Country Music Critics' Poll issue, Geoffrey Himes writes "Stuart released two albums in 2005: the No. 32 Badlands and the No. 4 Souls' Chapel. The first is a suite of a dozen original songs (plus his ex-father-in-law's "Big Foot") about the Oglala Sioux. The second is a gospel record that finds Stuart playing Pops Staples' guitar on one song and singing with Staples' daughter Mavis on another. On the two records, Stuart invokes the religious traditions of South Dakota Sioux and of black and white Mississippians, implying that a particular religious format isn't nearly as important as the willingness to accept the weaknesses of human nature, to forgive its failures and to assist its recoveries."

Comments from the critics included "Perhaps the most interesting creative dynamic in country music over the last decade or so is that so many artists who were once radio staples have experienced an artistic resurgence after country radio has written them off. From Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson through Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Marty Stuart, great artists who no longer feel compelled to confirm to the dictates of the format have made some of the greatest music of their careers." -- Don McLeese

"I am mightily glad of Stuart's ambition and drive and progressively conservative weirdness, but I wish he wouldn't work so hard to convince everyone that he is the heir to John R. Cash's throne. Easy, Marty -- no one else is stepping up. You got it. Now have fun with it." -- Matt Cibula

John Dunn at the Times Record places Marty's albums at #5

Souls’ Chapel and Badlands, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (Superlatone) — Stuart and his band tackle funky gospel and address the plight of the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota. They succeed mightily on both counts.

On Pop Matters, Souls' Chapel comes in at #2

"Southern gospel? Ordinarily, you wouldn't be able to get me up in one of those things for all the hamhocks in the world. But that was before Philadelphia, Mississippi's proudest son, the boldly mulletted Marty Stuart, made the best record of his intriguingly progressive career. It doesn't hurt that his drummer, Harry Stinson, is the finest high-harmony singer in Nashville, or that he imports old pal Mavis Staples to sing on the sultry slow-drag "Move Along Train." But what makes this swing is the surprisingly sexy double-guitar attach of Stuart and Kenny Vaughan. Tracks like 'It's Time To Go Home' and 'Come Into The House Of The Lord' glow with a fire that isn't entirely holy. Between this and the huge Indian-themed album Badlands both dropping in 2005, is it too early to anoint Stuart as country's prog-rock hero?" -- Matt Cibula

From the Chicago Sun-Times (listing was in no particular order):

Marty Stuart, Souls' Chapel: "The country rebel's first gospel album is an eclectic affair that is rootsy, reflective and takes Southern soul and rock to new heights. A highlight is "Move Along Train" written by the late Roebuck 'Pops' Staples and featuring the mighty Mavis Stables." -- Mary Houlihan

From The Tennessean's Top 5 Christian Albums for 2005:

"Marty Stuart and his co-conspirators the Fabulous Superlatives are appropriately reverent and riled up on Souls' Chapel, a mix of gospel standards (Pop Staples' 'Somebody Saved Me' is the album's stripped-down standout) and Stuart-penned gospel-rock, soul and blues jaunts that praise, howl and sizzle. It's an appropriately accomplished collection from an accomplished performer and one that radiates faith-focused passion." -- Nicole Keiper

Souls' Chapel made Calvin Gilbert's Top 10 list at

"It would take someone from the Deep South to pull this off convincingly, and Stuart was the perfect instigator with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives. Soul's Chapel is a gospel album, to be sure, but the tone is a funky mix of rhythm & blues performed by country musicians who understand it all."

Badlands appears at #6 on Kathy Coleman's list of the top Albums in 2005:

"In this era of sound-byte hit songs and bottom-line corporate demands for same, it's rare that an artist can present a full album on a single, solid theme where all the songs fit together in perfect harmony. Marty Stuart has done it once before, with the extraordinary 1999 release, The Pilgrim. Now he does it again, with the rich, poignant Badlands, a breathtaking tribute to the American Indian, specifically the plains Indians of the Dakota Badlands."

Badlands also appears on Edward Morris' Top 10 list at

"Now that the movies have pretty much bypassed American Indians, if we think of them at all, it's usually in relation to casinos. In this album, Stuart, who's a longtime champion of Indian causes, urges us to confront the destruction, deception and squalor our political policies have wrought. The songs, all but one of which Stuart wrote, are melodic, stark and heartbreaking -- which is why they must be heard."

Both Badlands and Souls' Chapel appear on Chet Flippo's Top 10 list at

"Stuart continues staking out territories country music needs to explore. With Souls' Chapel, he roams through the rich black gospel tradition of the South. Badlands is a fascinating journey into the Native American culture to which the late Johnny Cash introduced him."

The News-Observer lists Souls' Chapel at #9 for 2005. Jack Bernhardt writes: " Inspired and supported by the Staple Singers, this soul-drenched gospel offers promise without preaching, salvation without blame, and a charming glimpse of the vital connections between music and faith in the South."

Crackity Jones listed Souls' Chapel at #2 of his favorite albums of 2005. The song "Way Down" from the album was his 6th favorite song of the year.

Country Universe listed Souls' Chapel at #13 with "Stuart’s second stellar album of 2005 finds him putting his stamp on Southern gospel classics, creating an album that plays best for those Saturday night Christians who sleep through Sunday services because they’re still nursing a hangover." Badlands came in at #15 saying "Stuart revives the noble country music tradition of giving voice to the plight of Native Americans, managing to engage both historical and contemporary issues that have hit the community."

Lou Carlozo listed Souls' Chapel as his 6th favorite album of 2005

Bill Brownlee lists Souls' Chapel at #4, adding "Now that Johnny Cash is gone, Marty steps up with rugged gospel that Johnny would admire."

Geoff Mayfield, Billboard's Director of Charts ranked Souls' Chapel at #10, adding "Give me that old time religion."

Stu Reid at Tell The Band To Go Home ranked Souls' Chapel at #4. Marty also came in #1 under Male Artist.

On who was snubbed at the 2005 Grammy Awards nominations: "What about the single best piece of music that came out of Nashville this year? Marty Stuart's Souls' Chapel. Beautifully sung, orchestrated and written.

Not to mention his second release Badlands. -- Karen Ehlers

From Jesse Walker: "When Stuart plays Pop Staples' guitar on this album, it's not just a gimmick: The spirit of the Staple Singers hovers over all these spare, tight, and bluesy gospel numbers. Another entry for my best-of-2005 list."

USA Today put Souls' Chapel and Badlands on their Honorable Mention list.

Postcard2 lists Souls' Chapel at #2 and Badlands at #90.

Karen Miller (Americana - Miller Tells Her Tales lists Souls' Chapel at #8

No Depression Magazine asked their staff writers to list their top 20 albums from 2005. Overall ranking for Souls' Chapel was #4. Here are those writers with Souls' Chapel on their list:

#1 - Grant Alden (Co-editor)
#1 - David Cantwell (Senior Editor)
#1 - Jim Musser
#1 - William Michael Smith
#3 - Roy Kasten (Contributing Editor)
#7 - Barry Mazor (Senior Editor)
#7 - Rick Cornell
#7 - Daniel Durchholz
#12 - Rich Kienzle (Contributing Editor)
#16 - Silas House (Contributing Editor)
#17 - David Baxter
#19 - Jim Weisberger (Contributing Editor)

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