David Royko Psy.D
On The Edge CD review
by David Royko
Solo: Songs My Dad Loved
Skaggs Family Records 69890 10092
“Solo: Songs My Dad Loved” finds Ricky Skaggs pulling a Stevie Wonder, or maybe a Todd Rundgren, or to stay a bit closer to home, perhaps a Jim Reeves -- a one man band via overdubs.
Obviously, such a feat is far from new, and no longer much of a feat. Nowadays high school kids do it all the time in their basements, garages and bedrooms, but they aren’t likely to pull it off like this, because by the time Skaggs (b. 1954) finished high school, he was a seasoned veteran of Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys.
Stanley comes to mind during “Little Maggie,” a CMB staple, which Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder blazed through with stunning virtuosity on their Bluegrass Rules disc a dozen years ago. This time it’s everything that one wasn’t -- intimate, direct, sparse, and a bit mournful, Skaggs simply accompanying himself on banjo. Guitars of the acoustic, resonator, and Danelectro electric baritone variety, along with round hole, octave, and f-hole mandolins, mandocello, fiddle, piano, bass, and percussion also pass through Skaggs’ fingers by disc’s end.
The opening--a gently swinging “Foggy River”-- sets the tone for what’s to come: pristine playing and nothin’-fancy singing, with even the three old-time-tinged instrumentals steered toward gentle expression, not fancy flash. Represented are such familiar Skaggs (father and son) favorites as the Monroe Brothers, Roy Acuff, and God on beautifully-arranged gospel tunes such as “Sinners, You Better Get Ready,” “God Holds the Future in His Hands” and “City That Lies Foursquare.”
These were favorites of Hobart Skaggs’, but clearly his son loves them too, and listeners are lucky for that. (Skaggs Family Records, P.O. Box 2478, Hendersonville, TN 37077, ) DR