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Album Review: Endless
Rick Sparks
Cover image of the album Endless by Rick Sparks
Rick Sparks
2014 / Rick Sparks
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Endless is the debut recording by composer/pianist/broadcaster/teacher, Rick Sparks, and it’s a beauty from the stunning cover artwork to every note of the music. All ten tracks are piano-based, with some being solo piano and others that have keyboard/synth enhancements. Two pieces are original compositions (including the title track), four are hymns, and there are lovely covers of Bill Leslie’s “Portree” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Beautiful” as well as some traditional Scottish and Irish tunes - quite a varied collection! All of the songs are wonderful, but I hope Sparks will grace us with more of his originals next time! In his bio, Sparks says: "I wanted to record a quiet piano album that would help replenish the spirit of the listener. Music has such power to affect us at the deepest level - these melodic songs are tranquil but emotional at the same time." Sparks is also the programmer and founder of The Cove, one of the top 10% of Live 365’s 138 new age stations.

Endless begins with Sparks’ arrangement of Gordon Lightfoot’s hit from several decades ago, “Beautiful.” The simple piano melody is accompanied by ethereal atmospheric sounds for the first verse and then guitar takes a solo and later strums along with the piano melody and peaceful ambient sounds - a very sensitive treatment of a gorgeous song. “Dream Angus” is a peaceful traditional Scottish lullaby. Mostly a sweet and charming piano solo, synth strings and voices add washes of sound to some of the verses. I love the title track, a gentle and soothing piece that suggests vast open spaces and infinite peace - this is a must-hear! “Be Thou My Vision” is a very old Irish hymn that has become a very popular instrumental piece the past several years, but Sparks makes it his own. “Portree” originally comes from Bill Leslie’s 2013 Album of the Year (ZMR), Scotland - Grace of the Wild. This beautiful piece is given a new interpretation on piano with strings and ambient washes. “The Wexford Carol” is one of the oldest Christmas carols in the European tradition. Hauntingly beautiful, flutes, strings, piano, synth instrumentation and light percussion give it the feeling of a film soundtrack behind sweeping scenes of the Scottish or Irish countryside. “At Rest” is the second Sparks original. Piano, flute and choral voices offer a quiet mind and brain massage certain to chase the cares and burdens of the day right out the door. “Be Still My Soul,” is another old hymn that has enjoyed renewed popularity as a soulful instrumental piece. Still, Sparks makes it his own as a graceful and serene piano solo.

Rick Sparks’ new career as a recording artist is off to a great start! If you are looking for some quiet, heartfelt piano music, be sure to check this one out! Endless is available from ricksparksmusic.net, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
November 19, 2014
This review has been tagged as:
Debut AlbumsHymn Arrangements