Skaggs, 50, has been performing since he clambered onstage with his mentor, Bluegrass Hall of Fame founder Bill Monroe, at age 5. It's safe to say that he has plucked a clunker or two in that time, but they have been surrounded by some of the most artful pop music of the past 50 years. This superlative collection of down-home music reeks of authenticity-the unfettered sound of elemental bluegrass. Skaggs is his usual dazzling self, picking and singing his way through all 13 tracks-from "Why Did I Wait So Long," a gospel-tinged tune by Shawn Lane, to "Sally Jo," a favorite romp of Monroe's--with zestful precision. And he's backed by his own band, Kentucky Thunder, which is the proving ground to bluegrass that the Duke Ellington Orchestra was to jazz. In addition, all-star fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Brian Sutton (a Kentucky Thunder alum) and singer Sharon White (Mrs. Skaggs) sit in for this well-rounded album, which demonstrates that Skaggs's bluegrass continues to be greener.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Sally Jo"