Brand New Strings

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Apropos of the title, bluegrass stalwart Ricky Skaggs joins fresh ideas with a reverence for tradition and his abiding spirituality on Brand New Strings, one of his deepest, most exciting albums. The title song is a case in point: A classic-styled barn burner, it tells the story of a blues picker transformed by love, a makeover reflected in his ebullient playing. Rebecca Lynn Howard joins Skaggs on record for the first time, adding some jubilant harmonies, and electricity makes a dramatic entrance with guitarist Johnny Hyland's fleet-fingered, white-hot solo near the end. Similarly, Skaggs draws on shimmering electric guitar chords to spice up the acoustic arrangement on...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Apropos of the title, bluegrass stalwart Ricky Skaggs joins fresh ideas with a reverence for tradition and his abiding spirituality on Brand New Strings, one of his deepest, most exciting albums. The title song is a case in point: A classic-styled barn burner, it tells the story of a blues picker transformed by love, a makeover reflected in his ebullient playing. Rebecca Lynn Howard joins Skaggs on record for the first time, adding some jubilant harmonies, and electricity makes a dramatic entrance with guitarist Johnny Hyland's fleet-fingered, white-hot solo near the end. Similarly, Skaggs draws on shimmering electric guitar chords to spice up the acoustic arrangement on "If I Had It All Again to Do," a thoughtful reflection on family and the ties that bind. Skaggs' philosophy and faith have rarely been more effectively expressed than in the lilting, harmony-rich "Love Does It Every Time," an account of miracles born of faith, its message heightened by church bells, gut-string guitar, and affecting harmonies by Skaggs and his wife, Sharon White. The same is true for "My Father's Son," a moving, rhythmically rich confessional pointing out that "the highest laws are written / on the hearts of honest men." But what would a Ricky Skaggs album be without Bill Monroe? Here Mr. Bill is represented by "Sally Jo," Doug and Rusty Kershaw's folktale of a faithless femme -- a song that Monroe immortalized -- and Skaggs' sprightly, self-penned instrumental "Monroe Dancin'." Designed to move the spirit and the body, Brand New Strings makes easy work of both.
All Music Guide - Gregory McIntosh
It should come as no surprise to fans of Ricky Skaggs that the level of musicianship within his band Kentucky Thunder is superb. Even at their worst, they skim the surface of maximum quality, but what is so exciting about Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder is their ability to balance on the frayed edges of classic and progressive bluegrass. Brand New Strings shows this off very well, forsaking neither, and is an excellent example of a group whose members are both technically fantastic and capable of emotionally exploiting their talents, a rare commodity in modern bluegrass. The first of Skaggs' four songwriting contributions, the instrumental "I Corinthians 1:18," is a perfect example of the more forward-thinking side of the group, while the title track is where the group completely cuts loose with ridiculously amazing picking and fiddling. Skaggs even broke the traditional bluegrass barrier by employing accordionist Tim Laure on "Love Does It Every Time," a nice melodic country-folk tune, if a little heavy-handed lyrically. Ultimately, Brand New Strings is an excellent outing for Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, and shows the band pulling bluegrass another small step further from its shelter into adventure.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/28/2004
  • Label: Skaggs Family
  • UPC: 669890100629
  • Catalog Number: 901006
  • Sales rank: 95,688

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder Primary Artist
Ricky Skaggs Indexed Contributor, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals, Gut String Guitar, Soloist, Claw Hammer Banjo, Hi String Guitar (Acoustic), Vocal Harmony, Papoose
Sam Bacco Percussion, Bells, Spoons
Stuart Duncan Fiddle
Jim Mills Banjo, Soloist
Sharon White Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Darrin Vincent Vocal Harmony
Cody Kilby Banjo, Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Soloist
Mark Fain Bass, Bowed Bass
Paul Brewster Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Bryan Sutton Guitar
Keith Sewell Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Rebecca Lynn Howard Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Mike Snyder Claw Hammer Banjo
Jeff Taylor Accordion
Andy Leftwich Mandolin
Johnny Hyland Electric Guitar
Tim Laure Accordion, Portative Organ
Molly Skaggs Dulcimer
Jeff Taylor Accordion
Technical Credits
Ricky Skaggs Composer, Engineer, Audio Production
Doug Kershaw Composer
Guy Clark Composer
Mel Tillis Composer
Rusty Kershaw Composer
John Wiggins Composer
Harley Allen Composer
Shawn Camp Composer
Brent King Engineer
Don Rollins Composer
Bobby Terry Composer
Lee Groitzsch Engineer
Steve Leslie Composer
Keith Sewell Composer
Andrew Mendelson Mastering
Rupert Neve Design Engineer
Tony Mullins Composer
Tommy Conners Composer
Shawn Lane Composer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Keeping bluegrass alive and kicking

    It's a tricky balance to keep a traditional form from turning into a dormant shelf decoration. On the one hand, you need to keep to the tradition's roots, but on the other, you can't follow your forbearer's paths so closely that you do nothing more than wear ruts into the ground. Skaggs continues to successfully navigate this skyline path by matching top-notch instrumental skills and elements of traditional bluegrass arrangements with newly penned songs and inflections that expand upon the foundation laid down by Monroe, Stanley and others. ¶ Skaggs' latest release actively seeks out contemporary material from some of country music's finest writers, including Guy Clark, Shawn Camp and Skaggs himself. At their heart, these songs share a thematic sensibility with the bluegrass classics, and when given over to Kentucky Thunder's traditional fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin - not to mention the tight harmonies of Skaggs, Paul Brewster, Darren Vincent, and Rebecca Lynn Howard - the result is truly 21st century bluegrass. ¶ These studio productions don't generate the high-voltage band interplay found on the live performances like 2003's "Live at the Charleston Music Hall," though a few spark up some hot picking, such as Keith Sewell's title track, and several instrumentals penned by Skaggs. The latter's vocals are especially moving a pair of Shawn Lane tunes, "Why Did I Wait So Long?" and "If I Had it All Again To Do." No doubt the newer tunes waxed here will mix nicely with the classics as the band takes them out on the road.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews