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World Music CD Reviews North American

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby

By Phil Freeman
Published June 2, 2007

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby

This is one of the rockinest bluegrass albums to come along in quite awhile. Ricky Skaggs doesn’t have a damn thing to prove to any listener at this point, which frees him up to have fun, and he’s clearly doing so here. This collaboration with pianist/singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby is a rollicking, joyful affair that plays like a particularly well-recorded jam session. The opening cut, “The Dreaded Spoon,” is a weird tale of ice cream that’s probably better suited, given its lyrical silliness and overall romping feel, to the jam band audience that’s embraced Hornsby since his pop career dried up. Similarly, the closing cut is a cover of Rick James’s immortal “Super Freak” that doesn’t quite gel—mandolins, for all their multifarious virtues, just aren’t funky. But everything in between is beautiful, vibrant and sure to please roots obsessives, casual country fans and just about anybody else. A great record.