Mary Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives

Soul's Chapel

Soul's Chapel is the first release from Marty Stuart's Universal-backed Superlatone imprint and it's fashioned after the tight soul/country/gospel that's synonymous with Stuart's close friends the Staple Singers. Stuart and his three-piece band the Fabulous Superlatives cook up a spicy Southern brew, and the album shows that the genre-defying Stuart can do much more than is allowed within country's narrow confines.

Mavis Staples guests on "Move Along Train," leading the husky call-and-response chorus. The album is a showcase for virtually anyone who provides vocals (be it Staples, Stuart, guitarist Kenny Vaughn, bassist Brian Glenn or drummer Harry Stinson) as the quartet belts out some stunning harmonies. Another heaven-/hell-bound steam engine song, "Slow Train" (written by Stax/Volt vets Steve Cropper and William Bell) is a prime example of the band's prowess with its sinewy guitar lines and steamy, hesitant backbeat.

Hot on the heels of his gospel turn, Stuart plans to release a live album and Badlands, a concept album about the Lakota Sioux Indians. Soul's Chapel, though, is a strong anomaly in his catalog and it reminds us that gospel doesn't have to be watered-down or whitewashed to get its message across. Dancing is allowed and encouraged in this church.