With Souls' Chapel, his first full-on Gospel collection, Stuart, backed by his aptly named Fabulous Superlatives, looks inward and delivers something delightfully unexpected without ever missing a beat. This is Marty Stuart music at its best, steeped in deep-southern soul and stripped down to its spiritual essence. Driven by the heavenly guitar licks of Kenny Vaughan and anchored by the solid-as-a-rock rhythm section of drummer/executive producer Harry Stinson and bassist Brian Glenn, Souls' Chapel is a joyous, no-holds-barred Gospel celebration. Universal. 2005.
In the grand tradition of the late Roebuck "Pops" Staples
--patriarch of the Staple Singers
, whose influence permeates this project--Marty Stuart's selection of classic and original spirituals is also his bluesiest release to date. Stuart's guitar carries the familiar Delta sting of his native Mississippi, as the harmony-laden choruses soar toward heaven. A revival of Staples's "Somebody Saved Me" sets the album-opening tone, while a duet with Mavis Staples
on her father's "Move Along Train" provides the climactic epiphany. The vocal support of bandmate Harry Stinson--a drummer known as one of Nashville's finest high harmony singers--and the bedrock B-3 organ of Barry Beckett contribute to the music's saving grace. On "Way Down," Stuart sets an inspirational lyric to an insistent guitar progression that blues fans will recognize as "Baby, Please Don't Go," while "I Can't Even Walk (Without Holding Your Hand)" sounds like a timeless country waltz. Even those who don't share the faith will find it tough to resist the power and emotional purity of this music. --Don McLeese