Music to My Ears by Ricky Skaggs

Ricky’s latest should be music to the ears of fans who have been longing for him to record more straight-up country. Music to My Ears offers up an even mixture of bluegrass—where Ricky has been mostly residing these days—gospel and country, rather than focusing on one particular style.

The title track serves as the most interesting piece, a bluegrass tune flavored with a Christian message, but one that never preaches or lectures. “Blue Night,” which kicks off the album, is likely to remind longtime listeners of Ricky’s early country hits.

As always, the diligent historian pays homage to his bluegrass roots with a reworking of “Tennessee Stud,” made famous by the late Doc Watson, and the lighthearted “You Can’t Hurt Ham,” inspired by a saying from Bill Monroe, Ricky’s musical mentor.

The track that will have folks talking, though, will surely be Ricky’s collaboration with the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, “Soldier’s Son.” It’s a beautifully written, plaintively delivered song that never seems like a contrivance or an attempt to manipulate the listener. The two voices, which could not be more different, manage to perfectly complement each other.

There’s plenty here, including a lively instrumental, to satisfy all musical tastes.

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