Solo: Songs My Dad Loved

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Ricky Skaggs has taken his love of bluegrass into several interesting directions lately with albums of covers, collaborations and instrumentals. Now his adventure has circled back to its beginning, quite literally. Solo: Songs My Dad Loved features Ricky playing every instrument himself and addressing songs that were among the first he ever learned to play as a child in Kentucky. The loving care Ricky has taken with what is obviously a deeply personal project is audible in every note.
Ricky painstakingly overdubbed mandolin, fiddle, piano, guitar, mandocello and umpteen other instruments, but Solo never sounds stiff or studio-bound—the virtual band he creates here often sounds more loose and relaxed than Ricky and his reliable backing group, Kentucky Thunder, did on last year’s Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947. The package is unsurprisingly dominated by traditional gospel numbers, but there’s also more lighthearted fare like the funny “I Had But 50 Cents” and Roy Acuff’s prisoner lament “Branded Wherever I Go.” Solo is a singular pleasure.

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