Larry Sparks - The Last Suit You Wear

Larry Sparks
The Last Suit You Wear

(McCoury Music)

First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2007, Volume 14, #4

Written by John Metzger


Over the years, Larry Sparks has crossed paths with Del McCoury on the bluegrass circuit with such frequency that The Last Suit You Wear, his debut for McCoury’s label, sounds like a sort of homecoming. In fact, the arrangement employed on the opening cut The Old Coal Mine is a dead ringer for something that McCoury himself might have concocted. The rest of the set comfortably diverges from this format as Sparks deftly blurs the lines that divide country, folk, and bluegrass, and the results are equally rewarding.

Although Sparks contributes only two of his own compositions to The Last Suit You Wear — the spirited instrumental Larro, on which his assembled entourage has an opportunity to highlight its dexterity, and the brisk gallop of Goodbye Little Darlin’, a giddy acceptance of the end of a relationship — he connects with the rest of the selections so fully that they sound as if they are his own. In particular, he goes deep inside Connie Leigh’s Casualty of War, and his nonjudgmental approach makes the sentiments he expresses strikingly poignant. Likewise, on both the title track and Lazarus and the Rich Man, he sermonizes quite effectively by applying his Christian values to tales that denounce the pursuit of material possessions. Augmented by guest appearances from McCoury along with Don Rigsby, Hargus "Pig" Robbins, and Stuart Duncan, his backing band elevates the material with its sparkling but subtle virtuosity. Nevertheless, Sparks’ seasoned delivery is what gives The Last Suit You Wear its emotional resonance and turns it into one of the better bluegrass-minded endeavors likely to be issued this year. starstarstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2007 The Music Box