Ricky Skaggs and the Whites have collected more than enough trophies over their individual careers to fill up each of their mantels. They've worked with everyone from Emmylou Harris to Bruce Hornsby, yet they've never recorded an entire album together. Finally, after years of blending their voices from the living room to the stage, Ricky Skaggs and the Whites have teamed up on their first collaborative album, SALT OF THE EARTH - a gospel masterpiece that promises to be worth the wait.
Given how long Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White have been married and how well established both Skaggs and the Whites are as recording artists, it's surprising that this is the first album-length collaboration between Skaggs and his Kentucky Thunder and the vocal trio of his wife's family. The wait was worth it. Though Skaggs and White are plainly the spotlight draws here, the selection spreads lead vocals among her sister Cheryl and father Buck as well, while some of the highlights (such as the a cappella ending to the traditional "Blessed Assurance") blend the four in harmony. What's no surprise is that the musical bedrock is spiritual throughout, from classic fare such as "Farther Along" and "Wings of a Dove" to contemporary originals such as "Love Will Be Enough" and "Let It Shine" (where Sharon sounds particularly luminous). The musical backing is minimal throughout, but with voices like these and material this strong, you don't need much. --Don McLeese