Larry Sparks - It's Just Me
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It's Just Me (Rebel, 2023)

Larry Sparks

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

Imagine, if you will: Larry Sparks stops in at your home one evening, and following a friendly chat over a cup of fresh coffee, he pulls out his aged flattop and starts playing songs.

Dream no more, bluegrass and Americana friends.

Sparks does just that — minus the coffee — on "It's Just Me." With select accompaniment from his son, bassist Larry D., the sure-voiced Sparks holds court here for just under a half-hour sharing songs, familiar and new.

Picking his guitar with the assured ease that comes with decades of mastery, Sparks sparkles with confidence and comfort. Hearing him sing "Mom and Dad's Waltz" and "Don't Neglect the Rose" in this sparse arrangement is just a little magical. He tears it up a little on "Bring 'Em On Back," one of two Marshal Warwick numbers included herein. This bouncy number, with its evocation toward "The Grand Ole Opry, Kitty Wells, Johnny and Jack..." as well as "Long Way to Denver" holler to a past long gone, but one which remains fresh to Sparks as he settles into his mid-70s.

Acoustic country music doesn't get better than Sparks singing "She Thinks I Still Care" while "Great High Mountain" is another that will always capture attention and imagination; the version contained herein rivals any previously recorded.

Newer is Daniel Crabtree's "The Scarlet Red Lines," a sacred number for times of challenge, and Wyatt McCubbin's "Sweetheart" is a highlight. "Mama's Apron Strings" has received considerable, deserved airplay, another song that harkens to a distant past:

They don't use them quite as much today,
We sure could use them to wipe some tears away.
I sure do miss the comfort it could bring,
'Cause my world was tied together with Mama's apron strings.

A couple more songs would have been appreciated; at 27-minutes, the album is light. But for quality of performance and pure enjoyment, "It's Just Me" delivers country purity.

CDs by Larry Sparks

It's Just Me, 2023 New Moon Over My Shoulder, 2019 Lonesome and Then Some, 2014 Let Him Lead You, 2011 Almost Home, 2011 The Best Of Larry Sparks: Bound To Ride, 2008 The Last Suit You'll Wear, 2007 40, 2005

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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