Cherry Red Records (label)
28 April 2017 (released)
28 April 2017
The late Gary Stewart really was one of a kind. While his name does not get mentioned too regularly as a key influence for upcoming artists coming out of Nashville, his legacy is evident in the work of key talents Jason Isbell, Sam Outlaw and Aaron Watson. While he sadly took his life back in 2003 after the death of his wife of 43 years, his rich back catalogue has often been revisited. The latest release combines 1979's Gary and 1980's Cactus and a Rose. Neither were his most prominent chart successes, but both are worthy of your time.
While Stewart may never have changed the face of country music or pushed the boundaries into pop, as many of his contemporaries did, his body of work is both timeless and flawless. Both Gary and Cactus and a Rose are subtle bodies of work which engage your mind, but more importantly cause your heart to flutter a little faster.
Gary showcases the rowdier side of Stewart, the side for which the former alcoholic is best remembered. However, recorded just a year later, Cactus and a Rose, shows that underneath the insecure bravado was a soft, gentle man with an awful lot of soul. A warm, almost mellow presence, the pairing of the subsequent releases is a genius move to really highlight the strength of this unforgettable artist.
While these are not collections without distinct highlights, most notably One More, (We Made It As Lovers) We Just Couldn't Make It As Friends and Cactus And A Rose, they are bodies of work that capture your imagination from the first moment to the very last. Although they may not have been rewarded with the commercial success they deserved at their time of release, they most certainly should be rewarded with your attention right now.