Like a gentle, angelic call for peace. . .the album feels very healing with an intriguing blend of wisdom, elegance, and innocence. – Dyan Garris
Rick Sparks is known in the New Age genre for his melodic, piano based songs. Rick has also been an on-stage piano accompanist for many artists including Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. of The Fifth Dimension, gospel great Alvin Slaughter, and American Idol finalist, Phil Stacey.
What makes Rick’s music stand out in his own distinctive “New Age” style, as found on his new album, “Bella,” (June 2021), is his use of angelic choir; three-part vocal synth harmonies. Plus, added to that we have gorgeously cinematic synth string arrangements. With the addition of the flute, this makes “Bella” a lovely, soothing, angelic call for peace.
The inspiration for the album came from a 19th century portrait by Roberto Ferruzzi of a little girl praying (“Girl”). “Bella” is 10 tracks, 7 new originals plus 3 other songs: Sir Paul McCartney’s 2012, “My Valentine,” “Smiling,” from an Omega® watch TV commercial, and classical composer Antonin Dvorak’s poignant, “Going Home,” (sometimes “Goin’ Home), an adaptation of the second movement from his New World Symphony No. 9.
Antonin Dvorak began writing his Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” not long after arriving in America in 1893, where he had come to be the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. Apparently, he had a deep longing to return to Europe, and the melody/song expresses that sentiment. So, I love that Rick has also included a track, “A New World” toward the end of album. This is a very soothing and pretty piece, which I believe invites us into a collective energy of unity. Flute, soft bells, tender synth strings, and gentle angelic choir add to that ambiance.
Now, back to the beginning. The album opens with the title track, which sets a very soothing stage for all that follows, which is all in the same loving light. “Twilight Dreams” follows, which has a calming lullaby vibe. Flute and gentle piano gently embrace us and each other. Beautiful.
The string and other synth arrangements on “Smiling” and “My Valentine” are wonderful, and both are melodic and peaceful.
“Autumn Rain” is somewhat somber, with a gently repeating melody. This is contemplative and heart-stirring with its pretty strings and soft “oooh choir” giving it, again, that comforting angelic feeling found throughout the album.
The flute melody in “Highland Road” gives the piece a kind of Celtic feel. Piano scintillates and the angelic choir soothes the soul. Very calming.
Pretty and wistful, “Last Goodbye” is emotionally stirring. A bed of gently percolating percussion adds texture. As always, Rick has layered in just the right amount of strings. Piano, again, is gentle and moving.
The lovely “Bella” closes out with “Her Prayer.” Here is yet another one to love. This is so tranquil, so serene, we know it is coming directly from Rick’s heart, Bella’s heart, and the angelic heart, straight to ours. So very beautiful, all.
Rick says that his desire as an artist is “to create music that feeds the soul, inspires and uplifts the listener with beauty and peace.” Well, I should say, he heartily succeeds with every note. Peace be with us all.
Get “Bella” here: https://ricksparksmusic.net/
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