Almost Home

Almost Home

5.0 1
by Larry Sparks
     
 
Larry Sparks has been in the bluegrass business for nearly a half-a-century now, dating back to 1963 when he was hired by Carter and Ralph Stanley to play lead guitar in the Clinch Mountain Boys when he was only 16 years old. Sparks took over lead vocals in the band

Overview

Larry Sparks has been in the bluegrass business for nearly a half-a-century now, dating back to 1963 when he was hired by Carter and Ralph Stanley to play lead guitar in the Clinch Mountain Boys when he was only 16 years old. Sparks took over lead vocals in the band following Carter's death three years later in 1966, and by the time he formed his own Lonesome Ramblers band in 1970, he was already a seasoned performer on the bluegrass circuit, and he's been steady at it ever since, moving bright, young players in and out of his band while anchoring everything with his bluesy guitar playing and his lonesome yet vibrant and joyous vocal style. His new album, Almost Home (the title is drawn from the old bluegrass joke that every song is either about leaving home or trying to get back there), is Sparks doing what he's always done, pouring heart, soul, and energy into a bluegrass sound that doesn't try to break new ground but tends the roots of the thing with impressive drive and skill; one could call it new traditionalism except it isn't new at all, but it is what Sparks broke in doing with the Stanley Brothers in the first place. Almost Home is the perfect Sparks' release, with song after song showing focus and presence, and each one crackling with passionate energy. The title track sounds like it could have exploded out of any time period in the last 50 years, while "Lines on the Highway" makes for the perfect bluegrass road song. One of the highlights here is the haunting, modal instrumental "Back Road," a Sparks' original that he initially wrote on banjo, as well as the set closer, "Somebody Touched Me," which finds Sparks tackling bluegrass-gospel with fervor and poise. He may have a half-a-century of playing and singing behind him, but Sparks is still only 64 years old, and he's as vibrant a performer as ever, and with Almost Home, he's released one of his best albums: it races and crackles and embraces the past in the present like bluegrass was originally designed to do.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/15/2011
Label:
Rounder / Umgd
UPC:
0011661066229
catalogNumber:
610662
Rank:
130502

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Larry Sparks   Primary Artist,Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Baritone (Vocal),Tenor (Vocal),Acoustic Bass
Don Rigsby   Tenor (Vocal)
Ron Stewart   Fiddle
Carl Berggren   Mandolin
Jeff Brown   Tenor (Vocal)
Tyler Mullins   Banjo

Technical Credits

Larry Sparks   Composer,Producer
Hank Locklin   Composer
Pete Goble   Composer
Michael Keith   Composer
Leroy Drumm   Composer
Dennis Hensley   Engineer
Lee Bach   Composer
Larry Nager   Song Notes
John Reedy   Composer
Matt Lindsey   Composer
Devon Guillery   Graphic Design
Dave Lindsey   Composer
Marshall Warwick   Composer
Gerald Ellenburg   Composer
Shawn Lane   Composer
Cliff Abbot   Composer
Big Al Weekley   Composer

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Almost Home 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Joe_Ross More than 1 year ago
Larry Sparks admits that his music has always had a good, true and real lonesome sound. It's not surprising that his 2010 release on the Rounder Records label is all about nostalgia, homesickness and sadness, along with a healthy dose of wistful longing for traditional values and days gone by. Larry's music has always had plenty of 'hits' because of his ability to find good stories from the likes of songwriters Pete Goble/Leroy Drumm (i.e. "Gunfighter's Revenge") and Shawn Lane/Gerald Ellenburg ("Momma's Apron Strings"). With his emotive vocalizing, Sparks also makes a pair of Marshal Warwick compositions his own ("There's More That Holds the Picture" and "Bring 'Em on Back"). The songwriting team of Michael Keith and Dave Lindsey also had a hand in penning a trio of beautiful songs brimming of sentimentality -- Blue Mountain Melody, Picture Me There, Momma. The lone instrumental on this project, "Back Road," was written by Sparks. "Lines on the Highway" is certainly a song to help you keep pushing on while putting the miles behind. It has nice uptempo drive reminiscent of similar songs like "White Line Fever" and "I Know You Rider." A few tracks later, "Momma" is a tribute to a strong woman who has helped him stay on a road that's straight and true. Sparks doesn't shy away from hard-driving bluegrass (or gospel like "Somebody Touched Me") , but on this CD the tour de force for this multi-year winner of IBMA's "Male Vocalist of the Year" are some of the slower numbers, such as his evocative rendition of Hank Locklin's 1957 hit, "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On." Besides Larry with his vocals and guitar, the supporting musicians include his son Larry D. Sparks (bass), Tyler Mullins (banjo), Carl Berggren (mandolin), Ron Stewart (fiddle), along with Jeff Brown and Don Rigsby each singing tenor on five cuts apiece. Larry Sparks' signature sound emphasizes respect, honesty, transparency, faith and assertiveness. "Almost Home" is yet another chapter in Sparks' tradition-based music that is direct and thought-provoking ... a part of his legacy that has spanned nearly fifty years of professional music-making. (Joe Ross, Roseburg, OR.)