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Badlands

Marty Stuart

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Album Review

Intention is everything. In the heart of an artist it stands where cynical, critical notice can cast aspersion. Marty Stuart has made an aesthetic life of living and creating from the heart of intention. Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota is his second album in 2005. His first, Souls' Chapel, was a rollicking, hard country record filtered through gospel music and sacred song. Badlands is no less a sacred endeavor, though it is a far more historical one, and these ballads of the great Lakota tribe are his own. He was guided by the Lakota people and their elders through the true, official record of their existence, not the account in the revisionist American textbooks, and this record has the tribe's blessing. He wrote these songs after being guided through the Lakota lands for a period of years by John L. Smith and the elders of this noble and persecuted tribe who adopted Stuart as family. History, spirituality, legend, the lineage of memory, shame, guilt, and transcendence pass through these songs in equal measure.

Produced by Stuart with John Carter Cash, the set begins with elder Everette Helper's prayer song, and then jolts into the reeling crunch of the title track where country, rockabilly, and folk music meld together into an anthem that reveals both continuity and contradiction and top those whose views are short sighted. "Trip To Little Big Horn" is the story of Custer's Last Stand with a twist: presented as a dialogue with a ghost. Mandolins, acoustic guitars, and bass are tightly knit together to offer a story that is raw, yet elegant and pure. "Old Man's Vision" is a spoken word tale backed with spare, haunting guitar and drum atmospherics. The minor key shuffle that is "Wounded Knee" is as heartbreaking a song as Stuart has ever written; there is no cheap sloganeering or paltry politics here—this song is a prayer. Great pains were taken to make every line, every word, accurate historically, though the songwriter's craft remains intact. Check the track named for the great chief Big Foot, who died at Wounded Knee, with great backing vocals from Connie Smith. And on it goes through the "Broken Promise Land," the sad, folk tale "Hotchkiss Gunner's Lament," to the hard rocking "Broken Promise Land," and the sparse, ballad of outrage that is "Casino." "So You Want To BeAn Indian," is every bit as biting as Bob Dylan's "Hattie Carroll." The field recording that opens "Walking Through Prayers" is every bit as holy and moving a tune as anything on Souls' Chapel, but far more eerie and rooted in a world that is both seen and unseen. The fusing of Christian and Indian spirituality on the nine-plus minute "Three Chiefs" (Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse) may piss some off due to its unabashed view of the songwriter at the crossroads between the two. But it's in an opinion; a belief not in fundamentalist religiosity, but in the large vision of a God bigger than human understanding who loves outside the division of creed, color, or religion.

The set essentially closes with "Listen To The Children," a sprawling rock anthem with Native overtones, strings, and screaming guitars. It's a fitting end, but it's not officially finished until the Lakota medicine man prays over the entire proceeding, blessing, closing, and sending it into the silence of the human soul and to the ears of those who have passed and hear on the wind. Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota is a milestone, a career achievement for Stuart, and an album that is unsettling, provocative, morally instructive, and deeply satisfying musically as a country record that sets the bar higher than it has been set in a long, long time.

Customer Reviews

GIVE MARTY CREDIT

You must give Marty Stuart credit where credit is due. The man sings what he believes in. His second effort of the year is as beautifully written and sung as is the love he has for this Indian culture. It's warm, intimate and fleshed out with that wonderfully rich, caramel filled voice of his. And the extra special touch to this CD is the presence of producer John Carter Cash. "Trip to Little Big Horn" is especially beautiful. I recommend this as it's in my top five for the year. Right behind his most awesome "Souls' Chapel".

Badlands

My first Marty Stuart music. Great, haunting, can't stop listening to it over and over. I highly recommend this if you have any knowledge of the Native American history. Great music. Favorites Broken Promised Land, 3 Cheifs and Badlands. GMC

BADLANDS-Awesome Lyrics~~ Awesome Music

Have always liked Marty Stuart's music. I used to travel to rodeos to his Hillbilly Rock album back in the fun and wilder days. I was very glad to know that he has come to our great Nations and felt the Little Bighorn Battle when the 7th Cavalry attacked our families and felt the terrible atrocities committed at Wounded Knee by the 7th Cavalry. Marty, the next trip should be to Sand Creek Massacre Site where mutilations were committed by Chivington on the Cheyenne dead who were mainly children, women and helpless people under the US flag and the white flag of surrender and peace. Thank you for your album. It is helping heal my soul. ~~Northern Cheyenne warrior and a daughter of the Standing Rock Nation

Biography

Born: September 30, 1958 in Philadelphia, MS

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of country's most historically minded new traditionalists, Marty Stuart was also one of the most eclectic, moving between honky tonk, rockabilly, country-rock, traditional country, and bluegrass. He was also one of the more flamboyant showmen, supporting his party-hearty image with a wardrobe of rhinestone-laden Nudie suits. Stuart was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1958 and grew up obsessed with country music. He learned guitar and mandolin as a child and by age 12 was performing with...
Full Bio

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