2022 / Rick Sparks
Review by Kathy Parsons
Speak Peace is Rick Sparks' eighth studio album and is his response to the increasing levels of conflict and stress in the world, including the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Rick very appropriately refers to his music as "quiet music" and the eleven tracks on this album feature a mix of piano, synths, strings, flute and ethereal voices (two tracks are solo piano). Quoting Rick: "I'm so grateful for the power of music to help replenish our spirits through beauty & peace. That is essentially the hope of my music in general and for Speak Peace in particular." Included on the album is "Prayer for Ukraine," and all proceeds from the single are being donated to World Vision's Ukraine relief operation.
This quote from the liner notes explains the inspiration for much of Rick's music: "Some 3000 year ago, a singer-songwriter named David famously played his harp to calm the turbulent soul of a king. The peace in David's music, as with my music, came from his faith experience, that 'God speaks peace to his faithful people.' (Psalm 85:8)"
Speak Peace begins with the title track, which sets the quiet tone of the album. Strings and angelic voices move slowly and with grace, inviting the listener to breathe deeply and let go, even if only for a few moments. Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" was originally released in 1992 and is a tribute to lasting love. Synthesizer, flute and gentle voices soothe the mind as they remind us that there is still so much beauty in the world. The sweet and innocent "Little Princess" "speaks to the innocence & joy in every little girl's heart." The piano in this piece has a sound somewhere between a toy piano and a music box, adding to the warmth and tenderness of the strings, voices, and other instrumentation. Light and airy, "Dragonfly Dance" is mostly piano with strings and quiet voices, beautifully capturing the movements of these fascinating creatures. The solo piano "1912 Waltz" is the waltz Rick says he would have written for his grandmother's wedding if he had been alive back then. Slow, graceful and very expressive, I'm sure Matilda has been deeply touched by this lovely piece! "A Love That Lasts" is a beautiful tribute to Rick's wife of 46 years, Sandie. Passages of the piece are solo piano and others are enhanced with strings and voices. "Prayer for Ukraine" begins with a haunting cello solo and becomes more orchestrated as it unfolds - a very touching tribute to the people of Ukraine as well as a prayer for their deliverance from the horrors of war. "End of Day" is the second piano solo on the album and expresses how the pace of natures slows "with a quietness that speaks peace." It's very easy to visualize the sun slipping into the ocean as the sky changes from bright colors to pastels and then darkens. The traditional Scottish song, "Auld Lang Syne" has been interpreted many, many times, but I didn't know that there are two versions of the melody. Rick chose to use them both and arranged the piece for piano, strings and voices as well as flutes. It's a beautiful way to end this very soothing and peaceful album!
Speak Peace is available from Rick Sparks' website, Amazon, Apple Music/ iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. It's sure to take the rough edges off of your day!
June 24, 2022