Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby: Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby


After striking out with his past two studio albums (2002’s Big Swing Face and 2004’s Halycon Days), it was time for Bruce Hornsby to try something new. Dating back to a 2000 collaboration on a Bill Monroe bluegrass tribute album, Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs had continually discussed collaborating together.  Backed by Skagg’s band Kentucky Thunder, the two Grammy winners have released Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby, an unlikely mutual admiration society of of jazzy piano and bluegrass. 

The Virigina boy Hornsby has done well, proving in his recent stellar cover of “King Harvest” on a Band tribute album, that his voice can surely twang.  “Gulf of Mexico Fishing Boat Blues,” knocks nay-sayers stone cold with this tale of lost at sea and the hoe-down  “Sheep Shell Corn.” Two Hornsby originals – the aptly named “Mandolin Rain” with Skaggs on the title instrument and “ A Night on the Town” are given a force of fresh country to the song’s reinvented themes.

Skaggs gets in on the action with “Across the Rocky Mountain,” where he lets his lonesome yelp shine and the rollicking instrumental “Stubb.”  With a couple low-points, which include the ice cream heist tale opener “Dreaded Spoon” and a rather lame take cover of Rick James’ “Super Freak,” the collaboration is not all magic.  However, Skaggs & Hornsby sound poignant and crisp throughout, suddenly making both artists increasingly relevant courtesy of a by-gone sound.

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