Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Brand New Strings
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by John Metzger
Like a fine wine, Ricky Skaggs only improves with age, and on his latest effort Brand New Strings — the proper follow-up to his sterling 2001 endeavor History of the Future — he continues to refine his particularly distinctive knack for making traditional bluegrass music sound, strange as it may seem, contemporarily old-school. It’s no surprise that Skaggs’ success is based upon his having an astute ear for selecting not only solid material but also stellar musicians, and with his crack crew Kentucky Thunder in tow, he puts his unique spin on tunes by Rusty Kershaw, Guy Clark, and Shawn Camp. Even the overtly religious fare like Love Does It Everytime and Why Did I Wait So Long — which in lesser hands would have become mere sentimental pap — succeeds largely because the ensemble’s delivery allows the songs to blossom into something irresistible and lovely. In short, although Brand New Strings features a handful of selections that superficially are far lesser than those found on some of Skaggs’ prior efforts, the way he and his fleet-fingered collaborators uncork a rousing flurry of mandolin, banjo, bass, guitar, and fiddle makes the collection downright captivating. ˝
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box