The pairing of bluegrass virtuoso Ricky Skaggs and piano-centric singer/songwriter Bruce Hornsby is not as surprising as it first seems. Skaggs’ traditionalism has been colored by a touch of pop, and Hornsby’s commercial instincts haven’t prevented him from showing his folk roots. This 2007 collaboration brings out the best in them both — when Skaggs’ mandolin meshes with Hornsby’s light-fingered keyboard work, the effect is enrapturing. There’s a timeless mood to many of the tracks, whether the duo is interpreting an old-time ballad like “Across The Rocky Mountains” or re-working Hornsby’s “A Night On The Town” and “Mandolin Rain.” Skaggs’ playing is particularly graceful on the sprightly instrumental “Stubb,” Hornsby gives a warm vocal performance on the small-town vignette “The Dreaded Spoon,” and Celtic tones light up the beautifully-rendered “Crown Of Jewels.” The support players acquit themselves well, with fiddlers Andy Leftwich and Stuart Duncan slipping in some especially deft licks. The album’s key guest star, though, is singer John Anderson, who contributes a hilariously understated vocal to the album’s oddball remake of Ricky James’ “Super Freak.” Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby is a match-up that deserves a repeat engagement.