Still One of Bluegrass' Best

Thankful (Pinecastle)
Larry Stephenson

By Bob Mitchell

Larry Stephenson, an excellent mandolinist and one of the industry's premier high lead vocalist, displays his phenomenal talents in an all-gospel release destined to be another highly successful project. Song selection and delivery in this inspirational collection is guaranteed to offer hours of satisfying listening.

Each track showcases a heartfelt vocal from an artist who delivers the high lonesome sound envisioned by Bill Monroe. Stephenson's strong crystal clear voice soars above the musical support, delivering messages of hope and salvation.

Stephenson, a member of the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, won the SPBGMA "Contemporary Male Vocalist Award" in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006. 2004 also saw him capture the Song of the Year Award for "Clinch Mountain Mystery." After hearing Thankful any listener will understand why and be thankful that an artist of such high caliber is performing in our lifetime.

As always, Stephenson surrounds himself with first-rate musicians like Missy Raines (bassist extraordinaire), Shad Cobb, Dustin Benson, Sonya Isaacs, Warren Goad, Aaron McDaris and Ben Surratt. The new recording's overall quality and sound is equal to if not beyond previous achievements. Some of this reviewer's favorite selections include "Press On O' Pilgrim," "Lord It's A Hard Road," "When I get Home," and "Washed in the Blood of the Lamb" (with outstanding harmony), the soulful "I Need the Prayers" (with dazzling twin fiddle work), the poignant "Every Day Is Mother's Day" and a poignant "Weary Pilgrim Welcome Home."

On a five-point scale of excellence this release merits a five.

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