Cast A Lonesome Shadow – Larry Stephenson Band

Thirty five years ago, tenor singer and mandolinist Larry Stephenson struck out on his own and formed a group that’s maintained strong vocal harmonies and first rate musicianship for several decades. Stephenson’s latest release, Cast a Lonesome Shadow combines new, original material alongside older songs that reflect Larry’s formative years in his musical journey.

Good Love Gets Better With Time starts the recording on a cheery note. Cowritten by Jon Weisberger and Jeremy Garrett, this positive love song combines the wonderful feelings of romance right alongside the traditional bluegrass sound. Along with Larry on mandolin and lead vocals, the Larry Stephenson Band, at the time of this recording, consisted of Derek Vaden on banjo and harmony vocals, Nick Dauphinais on guitar and harmony vocals, and Andy Brown on bass. This track along with several others on this project feature Deanie Richardson on fiddle.

The title track, I Cast A Lonesome Shadow, was first recorded by country singer Hank Thompson in December 1961. Stephenson’s rendition is incredibly haunting. It’s a song that fits Larry perfectly, and one that should become a regular part of The Larry Stephenson Band’s live performances.

That’ll Get Me Through Missouri was cowritten by Larry along with Donna Ulisse. This song tells the story of the lonely feelings that can accompany one traveling on the road. With a really catchy melody and great vocal harmonies, this is another piece that’s quickly become a fan favorite since it was released as a single in October 2022.

Sonny Weather was written by banjoist Derek Vaden and named in honor of one of his banjo heroes, Sonny Osborne. This track not only displays Vaden’s powerful, traditionally grounded banjo picking, but also the instrumental talents of all the musicians in The Larry Stephenson Band.

Making Believe is a track that pays homage to the Osborne Brothers. While it had never been recorded by Bobby and Sonny, Stephenson renders this country classic in a fashion eerily similar to the brothers. If you didn’t know any better, you could swear you were listening to an Osborne Brothers recording. It’s a true standout.

Love Me Like You Used To Do is one of three songs on this project that Larry recorded during his time as a member of Bill Harrell and the Virginians. Given that the original recording has been out of print for some time, it’s great that Stephenson has resurrected this song for new generations to hear.

The following track, Lonesome With Heartaches, is another song from the Bill Harrell catalog. First released on Harrell’s 1980 album I Can Hear Virginia Calling Me, Larry’s rendition pays homage to his former boss while also putting his signature stamp on it. This track also includes stellar triple fiddle work from Deanie Richardson.

The album closes with Larry’s take on I’m A Ramblin’ Man, first recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1974. While this is a song you wouldn’t typically expect from a singer such as Stephenson, the arrangement works astoundingly well. It’s a well done rendition.

The Larry Stephenson Band has hit another home run with Cast a Lonesome Shadow. The older material Stephenson has included here perfectly reflects where he’s been on his musical journey, while the new original pieces show us where he and his band will continue to go.

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About the Author

Braeden Paul

Braeden Paul has been involved in various capacities of bluegrass music. A Texas native, Paul has been part of several Dallas-based bands as a mandolinist. He also serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Bluegrass Club in Grapevine, TX. As a writer, Braeden has also contributed numerous music reviews to the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook page, and is the co-author of Texas Bluegrass History: High Lonesome on the High Plains.