Stuart's artistry is showcased in tribute to the Lakota Sioux

By Barry Gilbert
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

November 15, 2005
Marty Stuart
"Badlands: Ballads of the Lakota"
Grade: B+

Country singer Marty Stuart has adopted the strategy that if radio won't play his records, he'll just make the music he wants to make.

Earlier this year, he released "Soul's Chapel," an excellent disc of Southern country gospel, and the new "Badlands" makes him two-for-two on his Superlatone label.

Stuart takes a page from the American Indian-themed projects of former mentor and father-in-law Johnny Cash, even recording at Cash's home studio in Tennessee with production help from Cash's son John Carter Cash.

"Badlands" pays tribute to the culture and history of the Lakota Sioux and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

For more than two decades, Stuart has befriended and been welcomed by the Lakota tribe, a relationship examined in a documentary aired on CMT during the summer.

On "Badlands," Stuart and his well-named Fabulous Superlatives -- guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and bassist Brian Glenn -- sing of Sitting Bull, Wounded Knee and Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

But this is more than a history lesson, as Stuart examines life today for the Sioux at the "Casino," in the "Broken Promise Land" and on the unvarnished "So You Want to Be an Indian."

Stuart, using music ranging from modern country rock to Sioux chants, makes his case and proudly displays his affection for the Lakota people.

"Badlands" shows that Stuart, many years removed from the teenage picker in Lester Flatt's band, continues to grow as an artist.