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Larry Sparks

Almost Home – 2011 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Dr. Tom Bibey

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CDs by Larry Sparks

Tom T. Hall once said one of the important attributes a musician could have is identity; a sound that is unique to the artist. Larry Sparks has that quality; both his voice and book-matched warm bluesy guitar style are recognizable in but a few notes. Sparks delivers classic bluegrass themes: songs of farms and home and mom. There are banjo breakdowns, minor key melodies and the gospel number (Somebody Touched Me. He even includes a western ballad number, Gunfighter's Revenge.

For the folks who despair true country music might be lost Send Me the Pillow You Dream On, a reissue of the Hank Locklin 1957 hit, offers reassurance true country still thrives in bluegrass artists like Larry Sparks. His delivery is so convincing the listener is all but compelled to call up the poor boy and offer to buy him a beer to wash away his blues.

Sparks started out with Ralph Stanley as a teenager and has been around almost 50 years. He says, "The road is lonely, but at least it is real." So is Mr. Sparks' music.