MARTY STUART, “Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions,” Sugar Hill. 14 tracks.
“What inspires me now is traditional country music,” Marty Stuart says in a news release for his new “Ghost Train” album. “It’s the music I most cherish.”
That said, don’t expect to find any bluegrass on here.
Sure, Stuart got his start as a 13-year-old mandolin player with Lester Flatt in 1972. And he’s made a few bluegrass albums through the years since Flatt’s death in 1979.
But this isn’t one of them.
The songs feature drums, electric guitars, steel guitars, pianos, violins, cellos and violas — not banjos, fiddles and mandolins.
Still, bluegrass these days is leaning closer to traditional country music than modern country music does.
And the more liberal (in terms of music) bluegrass fans will probably enjoy “Ghost Train.”
The strangest — and maybe the best — song on the album is Stuart’s “Porter Wagoner’s Grave,” a recitation about a homeless man whose life is turned around when he meets the ghost of Porter Wagoner while sleeping on Wagoner’s grave.
Stuart, incidentally, wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 14 tracks, including “Hangman,” a song he co-wrote with Johnny Cash, four days before Cash’s death. The song tells of an executioner who uses drugs and liquor to dull the pain of killing people.
The album features a duet with Stuart’s wife, Connie Smith, on the ballad, “I Run To You,” which they co-wrote. The two also co-wrote the ballad, “A World Without You.”
There are three instrumentals — Stuart’s “Hummingbyrd” and “Mississippi Railroad Blues” and Ralph E. Mooney and Charles P. Seals’ “Crazy Arms.” Mooney plays steel guitar on the tune as well as on several of the other tracks.
“Hard Working Man” is a song about the Great Recession, when jobs are taken away from Americans and shipped overseas.
“Ghost Train Four-Oh-Ten” finds a man at the depot where trains no longer stop. He’s broke, his woman is gone and he’s ready to ride a ghost train.
It’s the kind of album Nashville should be making more of, but isn’t.
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.SugarHillRecords.com.