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CD Review: Larry Sparks – New Moon Over My Shoulders – by Peter Wroblewski for Country Music News International

CD Review: Larry Sparks – New Moon Over My Shoulders – by Peter Wroblewski for Country Music News International

Larry Sparks – New
Moon Over My Shoulders

2019
Rebel Records REB-CD-1870

www.rebelrecords.com
/ www.larrysparks.com

A
year ago Rebel Records released the CD “New Moon Over My
Shoulder” with bluegrass legend Larry Sparks. It’s been five
years, since his last studio album, the 50th anniversary “Lonesome
and Then Some”. The new album commemorates another career
milestone and coincides with the fifth decade of Larry as the band
leader of his “Lonesome Ramblers”. He formed the group in
1969 after a successful three-year run as the lead singer for Ralph
Stanley.

A
nod to Larry’s former boss can be found in a new recording of the
song “I Only Exist”, arguably one of the best songs that he
cut during his tenure with Stanley. The new disc also contains fine
examples of classic country songs that sparkle under the glow of
Lonesome Ramblers treatment. “Down in Union Country” is a
seldom-heard song of Roy Acuff from the late 1930s, while cowboy film
star Gene Autry was Larry’s inspiration for the album’s title track.

Other
fine songs are “Take Me Back to West Virginia” written by
Daniel Crabtree or “Henry Hill” penned by Pennsylvania
songwriter Gary Ferguson. “Annie’s Boy”, written by Bill
Castle, puts a different face on armed conflict by tracing a mother’s
love for her boy as he journeys from nursery to high school, to a
train that takes him off to war, and his final return to an airport
tarmac draped in red, white and blue. In response of fan requests for
several gospel favorites, Larry offers fresh interpretations of “New
Highway” and “Green Pastures in the Sky”. The
“Lonesome Ramblers” on this album are Michael Feagan, he
fiddled with Sparks for over a decade; Ron Stewart is a former IBMA
fiddle and banjo “Player of the Year” and bass player
Matthew Madden has a long history with Larry Sparks. Adding youthful
perspectives are newcomers Jeff Clair and Evan Wilson who both share
mandolin duties.

“New
Moon Over My Shoulder” is another strong production by Rebel
Records. It has it all: soulful singing, riveting guitar work, an
engaging selection of songs, and deft instrumental and vocal backing
by one of the best groups in the business – a real pleasure for all
fans of authentic bluegrass and country music.
(Peter
Wroblewski)

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