Dreams of Peace: The Very Best of Rick Sparks
is one of the most relaxing and soothing albums you are likely to hear anytime soon! It is a collection of fourteen of Sparks’ most peaceful pieces from his five “quiet-music” albums released since 2014 (all five are reviewed on MainlyPiano.com!). Sparks’ music is often heard on “Sleep Radio” in New Zealand, which should be a helpful point of reference. With the motto of “Music to replenish your spirit,” Sparks has created a body of work that is more melodic than ambient, but still has that easy flow and beauty that uplifts the soul and provides a respite from some of the harsh realities of life around us - at least temporarily.
In addition to original compositions and occasional covers, Sparks often includes familiar hymns on his albums, as he does on this one. “Brian [Wilson] always said that God gave him his songs - I feel the same about my music. My ultimate goal is to glorify Jesus Christ in everything I do. He's a big part of my music helping to 'replenish your spirit.'" Dr. Rick Sparks (Ph.D.) also serves as professor of mass communication at North Greenville University South Carolina and plays keyboards in his church worship band near Spartanburg, SC.
The album begins with Sparks’ beautiful arrangement of Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” one of my favorite pop songs. Performed on keyboards, the instrumentation includes flutes, strings and vibes as well as the sounds of rain and thunder. I have heard a lot of great arrangements of this classic, but this is one of the most peaceful. “Little Flower” is serene and soothing with piano, strings, wordless vocals - profound in its simplicity. “No Greater Love” was one of my favorites on Hushabye from earlier this year, and it’s a favorite on this album as well. “Sand and Stars,” for piano, wordless vocals, strings and guitar, could be the musical definition of “peaceful” - so smooth and tranquil. “And She Dreams” is almost magical with its slow, simple piano melody, angelic voices and strings. “Be Still, My Soul” seems to be one of the favorite hymns among pianists and this is one of a few piano solos on the album - simple, direct and sincere, it’s a lovely arrangement. The title track also comes from Hushabye with shimmering flutes and ethereal strings providing an extended intro before the piano enters with the melody - both dreamy and peaceful! “Tokyo Rain” has a very quiet Japanese sound and is another piano solo - gentleness set to music! “Memories of Her” reminds me a bit of Kevin Kern - always a compliment! - with piano and strings and an unforgettable melody. Sparks’ instrumental arrangement of the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” brings the album to a sweet and sentimental close.
If you are new to Rick Sparks’ music or if you’d like a compilation of his best music, Dreams of Peace: The Very Best of Rick Sparks
is a must-have! It is available from RickSparksMusic.net
, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and many streaming sites.