Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives, Big Sadie

This appeared in the Chicago Reader - October 16, 2014

Marty Stuart spent his early career as part of Johnny Cash’s backing band, and 20-plus years later, with a number of hits to call his own, he remains a solidly unstarlike country star—someone who’s spent the bulk of his career not in alt-country opposition to Nashville but just off to the side, supporting another’s turn in the spotlight. If that’s been frustrating for him, he sure doesn’t show it; instead he almost seems to revel in the low profile, whether that means winkingly billing his current bluegrass band the Fabulous Superlatives or letting his drummer, Handsome Harry Stinson, steal the show with a lung-defying held note on a live performance of the bluegrass gospel standard “Working on a Building.” That song appears on Stuart’s live gospel album from earlier this year—and he’s got a half-secular, half-sacred two-disc set, Saturday Night / Sunday Morning (Superlatone), coming out shortly before this show. With their mix of retro rockabilly (“Jailhouse”), retro honky-tonk (“Rough Around the Edges”), and reverent bluegrass gospel, the albums make no claim to idiosyncrasy or genius. Stuart won’t wow you, but his easy, unassuming love for the music is always center stage.

By Noah Berlatsky

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