2019 / Rick Sparks Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Hushabye is the sixth album from pianist/composer/keyboardist Rick Sparks. Widely-known for his peaceful, melodic music that often layers strings and ethereal voices over the piano, Sparks created this album specifically to help listeners with relaxation, meditation and sleep. He explains: “I wanted to record an album of soothing music that both adults and children could relax with. I wanted the songs on this album to feel like a favorite soft pillow.” In this case, I have to assume that referring to this album as “a real snooze” would actually be very positive - and it is intended to be! Subtitled “Sail away to dreamland,” this gorgeous album contains nine new original tracks and two covers: Sparks’ instrumental arrangement of the 1969 pop hit, “Love Can Make You Happy” and the classic children’s hymn “Jesus Loves Me.” I really wish this album had been around when I was having problems sleeping a few years ago, but I know what I’m getting for several friends for Christmas! I really can’t imagine a more pleasant way to induce sleep or for easing away the stresses of a hectic day.
Hushabye begins with a short prelude called “My Soul To Keep,” which was inspired by the prayer so many of us recited as children. Performed a cappella by angelic choir voices, it’s a beautiful start! “Love Can Make You Happy” was originally recorded by the group Mercy, and Sparks’ blissful arrangement is a bit slower and features, piano, strings and wordless vocals. The title for “Dreams of Peace” could refer to dreaming of peace or peaceful dreams, and it really doesn’t matter which way you interpret it - just sit back and enjoy the soothing massage for the mind and soul. The gentle and very delicate “Little Flower” is piano, strings and wordless vocals and has a somewhat Asian feel. Very open and uncluttered, the simple melody is hypnotic. “No Greater Love” refers to Jesus’ teaching and shimmers with a peaceful, magical glow - I love this one! “When the Stars Come Out” adds flute to the mix of voices, piano and strings and casts a rapturous spell. “Jesus Loves Me” is the first hymn many of us learned as kids and the warm reassurance of eternal love flows from each note. More ambient than most of the rest of the album, “Cloud Pillow” floats effortlessly on a gentle breeze of sound. “And She Dreams” is also quite ambient (and VERY peaceful!), but the “angel voices” make it a bit more melodic while expressing innocence and tranquility. Inspired by the music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Angel Song” returns to the a cappella choir’s vocalizations (no lyrics). “We Are Loved” closes the album with “a great sentiment that I hope fills both our dreams and our waking hours” (quoting Rick Sparks). If you haven’t melted into a happy puddle yet, just hit the “replay” button and drift off to a very happy Dreamland!
Rick Sparks has created another wonderful album with Hushabye! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, and many streaming sites.
July 23, 2019