Pop & Rock

Bluegrass Blue Blood

07 APR 11 DAVID SHANNON

Larry Sparks is widely considered the reigning baron of traditional bluegrass, with a storied career that began at age 16 when he accepted the lead guitarist role in Carter and Ralph Stanley's legendary bluegrass outfit The Stanley Brothers. After Carter passed away in 1966, Sparks bravely filled his shoes as lead vocalist-along the way becoming something of a benchmark for bluegrass singing-before going on to a hugely successful solo career in 1972. A listen to his latest release, Almost Home, on Rounder Records, reveals that Sparks shows no signs of abdicating his title.

Backed by his stellar touring band The Lonesome Ramblers, Sparks journeys through an all-new songbook of foothills and plains that largely resemble his home state of Ohio. From songs like the clearly tour-influenced "Lines On The Highway," which neatly balances the allure of the road and the loneliness that often accompanies it, to the title track, which paints a pastoral picture of homesickness, Almost Home covers a range of territory.

In fact, the songwriting on the album is one of its most vital elements, as Sparks drew deeply from a well of acclaimed songwriters that includes Shawn Lane (of Blue Highway fame), as well as Nashville songsmiths Dave Lindsey and Michael Keith, who contributed a number of songs to the album. With their help, Almost Home adds another distinguished water mark to Sparks' royal pedigree.



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