Uncle Pen is in many ways a tribute album done by Ricky Skaggs for Bill Monroe, the man known as the father of bluegrass music. Monroe invented the style and name in the '40s. There are ten tracks on this 2002 release, including three that were written by Monroe: "Can't You Hear Me Callin'," "Wheel Hoss," and the title track, "Uncle Pen," a real toe-tapping bluegrass ride. In fact, all of the tunes on this offering are bluegrass numbers. The songs were actually recorded by Skaggs in the '80s, and have only now been combined into one album by Music Mill. Multi-instrumentalist Ricky Skaggs might be a country singer, but he has deep bluegrass roots that come through on this album. He has always seemed as comfortable singing straight bluegrass as progressive country. He does both distinctively. This album is a keeper for both Ricky Skaggs and Bill Monroe fans.
AllMusic Review by Charlotte Dillon