Ricky Skaggs has become an American musical institution. Sure, you don't hear his name as often as, say, Garth Brooks, but he is just as important on the musical landscape. As a multi-instrumentalist, Skaggs has worked with the best in the business, and now he brings it all back home with this, the follow-up to Bluegrass Rules! on his own Skaggs Family record label and a collection of some of the finest classic bluegrass tracks ever compiled on a single disc. Beginning with a track penned by the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, Skaggs and his band move through "Walls of Time" with nothing short of perfection. Skaggs also covers "Mighty Dark to Travel," "Boston Boy," and "I Believed in You Darlin'," all written by Skaggs' mentor, Monroe. Also covered are Carter Stanley's "Lonesome Night" and "How Mountain Girls Can Love," a full-speed-ahead bluegrass romp. Billy Joe Foster's "Give Us Rain" and the definitive song of the genre, written by Ralph and Carter Stanley, "Pig in a Pen," are fresh and alive with Skaggs' smooth vocals and fiery mandolin work. Skaggs saves one spot on the album to perform his own composition, "Connerma," and delivers an excellent arrangement of the traditional "Little Bessie." It is a rare thing to find an album that so clearly defines an entire genre of music the way Ancient Tones does. It is a gem of a record -- a record to help carry the memory of folks like Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, and, of course, Ricky Skaggs into the 21st century.
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AllMusic Review by Michael B. Smith