Ricky Skaggs’ latest album, Music To My Ears, hits stores Tuesday, September 25th. The Kentucky native started playing the mandolin at the age of 5, and has since gone on to have a great career, with his most recent honor coming last month when he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Before focusing on Bluegrass full-time, Skaggs had a great run in country music in the 1980′s with 19 top-ten hits which included eleven #1′s.
Music To My Ears kicks off with “Blue Night,” a catchy song that sounds like it came right from the “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack, and is followed by “Things in Life,” which sounds like it came from the Beverly Hillbillies soundtrack. Now, before you get the impression that I’m insinuating that this music isn’t original, I must admit that Bluegrass isn’t something I’ve listened to with much regularity, so I have a limited amount to compare it to. While these first two songs start off with a sound I am familiar with, the songs themselves are unique and worth listening to. “Blue Night” is a song of loneliness, while “Things in Life” has some powerful lyrics, such as the final verse: “Now when they lower my casket down in some lonesome grave to rest, and you take one last look at my face, you can say I’ve done by best.”
“You Can’t Hurt Ham” is a fun tale of Bill Monroe being out on the road hungry late one night, and all that’s left to eat on the bus is some moldy ham. This doesn’t bother Monroe, as Skaggs sings, “Well, you know you can’t hurt ham, you know you can’t hurt ham. Mon said, ‘Boy bring me that sack, you know you can’t hurt ham.’” It’s a bit of a goofy story, but it’s a catchy song.
Skaggs gets in touch with his Gospel Music side with the title track, “Music to My Ears,” where the name of the Lord, the peace of the nations, and children laughin’ are all “music to his ears.”
“What Are You Waiting For” starts off with a piano solo, a change from the rest of the album so far. It’s a song of wisdom, preaching that patience can lead you to find what you’re looking for. If this song were released as a single, it’d be more of a Christian Rock song than a Bluegrass song. One of my favorites on the album so far. Very good message.
“New Jerusalem” is an instrumental that is followed by “Soldier’s Son,” a bit a dark song written by Barry, Ashley, and Stephen Gibb (of Bee Gees fame). This is a song that has a bit of a Celtic flavor to it and has all kinds of neat instrumentation throughout such as bagpipes, whistles, and various string instruments, as well as a verse sung by Barry Gibb himself.
“Tennessee Stud” is a tribute to the legendary Doc Watson, and is followed by a short song, “Lovin’ You Too Well,” which runs for just 2 minutes and 17 seconds. It is a woeful tale of loving his woman too much, to the point that it drives her away and allows another man to steal her away from him.
“You Are Something Else” is a soothing love song, as he tells of all the amazing things he’s seen in his lifetime and how they pale in comparison to the subject of the song. This is a great song, another one of my favorites on this album.
The album comes to a close with “Nothing Beats a Family,” a stripped down song instrumentally that honors the strength and love of a family. “Nothin’ beats a family, no nothin’ beats a family. You can look around and you will see, nothin’ beats a family. When the world will weigh a ton, when you’re world will come undone, who’s gonna love you the way they do.”
Music To My Ears was just that. It was a blend of Bluegrass, Gospel, Country, Christian Rock, and even a little Celtic music that was music to my ears. The instrumentation on these songs combined with excellent lyrics make this a great album to listen to and has opened my ears to a new world of music that I look forward to listening to more of. I would highly recommend getting this album, as I give it a score of 8 out of 10.