RICKY SKAGGS, “Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved.” Skaggs Family Records. 13 tracks.
Ricky Skaggs is 55 now. And he’s been performing for nearly half a century.
In 1960, Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” brought the 6-year-old mandolin player on stage with him in Martha, Ky.
A year later, he made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. By the time he was 15, Skaggs was riding the bluegrass backroads, performing with Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys.
Forty years later, Skaggs has a collection 14 Grammy awards, 12 No. 1 country hits, 12 top country albums, 11 International Bluegrass Music Association awards and eight Country Music Association awards.
But with “Solo,” which hits stores on Sept. 15, he goes back to his roots. This is the music he heard his father, Hobert Skaggs, playing around the house back in Cordell, Ky.
It’s not bluegrass really. Sort of pre-bluegrass country and mountain music.
But it’s definitely a solo album.
Skaggs plays every instrument — acoustic guitars, resonator guitars, mandolins, mandocello, steel string banjo, gut string fretless banjo, fiddle, piano, bass, electric baritone guitar and percussion.
He sings a duet with himself on the Monroe Brothers’ “What Is A Home Without Love” and “Sinners, You Better Get Ready” as well as the Stanley Brothers’ “Little Maggie.”
There’s even some one-man call-and-response singing on “God Holds The Future In His Hands.”
And Skaggs produced the album as well.
His voice sounds deeper this time around. He limits the tenor singing to the duets.
There’s some a capella singing on the first part of “The City That Lies Foursquare.”
In short, Skaggs does a musical tour de force on the album.
So how is it?
Well, if you’re expecting some of the outstanding bluegrass Skaggs as done in recent years, you’ve come to the wrong place.
But if you’re a Skaggs or a fan of roots music, it’s a great album.
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com.