RICKY SKAGGS and SHARON WHITE
Hearts Like Ours
After 33 years of marriage, a passel of Grammys, CMAs and more between them, one of country music’s most celebrated couples finally decided it was time to record an album together. This polished collection of love songs travels the landscape from classic country to bluegrass, beautifully presented with weeping pedal steel, tasty guitar licks and harmonies sweeter than your mama’s blueberry pie. And would you expect any less from Sharon White, member of The Whites, a band known for their water-tight harmonies? Ricky Skaggs warm tenor has been heard in countless country hits and together they’re wonderful. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve enlisted some of Nashville’s best writers like Marty Stuart, Paul Overstreet, Connie Smith and Don Schlitz.
The album kicks it off old school with “I Run to You,” a classic country number thick with pedal steel, a steady acoustic guitar and traditional sentiments about knowing you can depend on your one and true love. They won a CMA for “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This” back in 1987, but didn’t have time to release a whole album. It’s a great dance tune featuring a Cajun-style fiddle. In “When I’m Good and Gone” they wonder how things will go after death, but it’s not morose. Rather, it’s a positive song about wishing good things for those left behind. “If I Needed You” is a classic Townes Van Zandt song that is such a favorite with them, they sang it to each other at their wedding in 1981. They really do it justice with a nice arrangement of mostly acoustic instruments including a wonderful acoustic guitar solo from Ricky. Both artists are no stranger to gospel so it’s no surprise they included “It Takes Three” and “Be Kind.” There’s a great bluegrass feel in “No Doubt About It,” featuring a blistering acoustic guitar, upbeat banjo and lively fiddle. “Reasons to Hang On” has a driving minor feel that includes Ry Cooder on slide electric guitar; we learn that there are lots of reasons to “hang on,” including a “starry night” and “that little cat that hangs out by the barn.” “Hearts Like Ours” is about loving each other through good and bad. In “Home is Wherever You Are” they alternate verses, like two sweethearts singing across the miles, missing each other. If there can be any complaint, it’s that there’s too much sugar in this musical sweet tea. Cooder’s slide guitar provides the only grit. However, if you’re weary of the “let’s all get drunk and party” mindset currently playing on country radio, then this is what you need. There’s nothing that good love, God and rich harmonies can’t conquer.
— Jamie Anderson