Larry Sparks has never been shy about his belief of Jesus as his Lord and Savior. While there are many ways to approach such subject matter in the music world, Sparks keeps it simple, unapologetic and thankfully non-denominational.
Gospel music, however, can be as equally subjective as the 100-plus denominations found in Christianity. Some prefer their sacred music to be without instrumentation while others have written religious music for symphonies. With Sparks and especially on this fine new album Ministry In Song, his sacred music is blatantly of the bluegrass gospel genre.
On Ministry In Song, Sparks brings forth a new album of old gospel favorites combined with new songs, with all of them presented in a straight-ahead bluegrass style. This is an album that harkens back to a time gone by, back when the old folks were still around and life was a bit simpler. Few performing now can pull that off like Larry Sparks.
Joining Sparks and his guitar and distinctive vocals on this recording are Evan Wilson on mandolin and tenor, Jacob Wright on banjo and Larry D. Sparks on bass. Guests include Ron Stewart on fiddle throughout and banjo on two cuts, and John Rigsby on harmonica on the classic Hank Williams’ song “House of Gold.”
Other highlights include the Sparks-penned songs “Lord Show Me The Way” and the banjo-driven “King Jesus.” There are two wonderful Daniel Crabtree-written songs on here including “Holding On,” with its ‘John Deere-esque’ vibe, and “All Over Me,” featuring just Sparks’ voice, his guitar and harmony vocals singing about the need for grace at three-in-the-morning. Long a lover of the aforementioned Hank Williams, Sparks uses the force of his full band to put a bluegrass twist on the last cut, “I Saw The Light.”