Nightsong: Love Songs & Lullabies
2023 / Rick Sparks Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Nightsong: Love Songs & Lullabies is Rick Sparks' ninth studio album (not counting singles or his "Best of" album) since his 2014 debut, Endless. Happily, I've been able to review them all, and new music from Rick is always a special treat for the soul as well as the ears. Based in South Carolina, Rick's desire as an artist is to "create music that replenishes the spirit with beauty and peace." Always warm, soothing and relaxing, this is music with a purpose, but it is also a joy and a pleasure to listen to it for its own sake! The ten tracks on the album are a combination of four new original pieces and Rick's arrangements of love songs and lullabies by iconic artists that include Sting, Paul McCartney and Phil Collins. Quoting Rick: "I sought with Nightsong to capture the intimacy of listening to music at night, a mystical mixture of spirituality and longing for connection & love." So, if you're feeling the stresses of the day, pour a glass of wine or a cup of tea, turn the lights down and drift into the comforting beauty of Nightsong.
Nightsong: Love Songs & Lullabies opens with the title track. It starts out with solo flute and the sound of crickets before being filled in with strings, bells, angelic voices and other synth pads - a very soothing beginning! "Astra Lumina" (Latin for "Star Light") "celebrates the silent glory of the night sky, a place of spiritual wonder and peace" (quoting Rick). Flute, voices, strings and twinkle bells express the magic of a clear night sky away from the lights of the city, when it feels like you could almost reach up and touch the stars. Rick's lullaby arrangement of Santo and Johnny's 1959 instrumental hit, "Sleep Walk," gently floats on a cloud with twinkle bells, strings, and angelic voices. Rick's arrangement of Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do" (1923) is poignant and dreamy as bells, strings, voices and flute offer quiet reassurance that all will be well. I really like this one! Paul McCartney released "My Valentine" in 2012, and Rick's arrangement features piano, flute, strings and synth pad, expressing a message of love straight from the heart. "Night Rain" is a Rick Sparks original and is the most ambient of the tracks on the album. The sound of rain falling is blended with melodic synth chords, creating a cozy feeling of being safe and dry, perhaps under the covers, during a nighttime rain. Phil Collins' 1991 "Hold On My Heart" is very still as it peacefully reassures that things will be okay. Rick's "Lullaby For Ukraine's Children" was composed "to speak peace and comfort to the ultimate victims of the Ukraine war, the displaced children who have suffered the loss of family and home." A deeply heartfelt piano piece, occasional strings and voices bring even more emotion to the music. I love this one! "Fields of Gold" is one of my favorite songs by Sting, and Rick's arrangement is beautifully realized with flute and synth pads - so peaceful and serene! The album closes with the classic Irish lullaby, "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral," performed with Irish flute, music box bells, fiddle, voices and strings. If I wasn't writing a review right now, I'm quite sure I'd be sailing off to dreamland, relaxed and refreshed. See if it works for you, too!
Nightsong: Love Songs & Lullabies is a delight from the first note to the last and is available from Amazon (digital and CDs), Apple Music and streaming sites including Spotify. Don't miss it!
May 24, 2023