Sparks’s third album “Nightfall London” was inspired by the city and its nocturnal features and sounds. Sparks is a pianist and composer who integrates addition textures with a digital keyboard.

This album is soft, sleepy-time music! It’s fantastic music for winding-down after a long day. Track 1: Across the River features a lullaby-type melody with gentle synth backgrounds. Track 2: Nightfall London is the title track. It’s a stately string ensemble elegy with a light synth melodic line. The lovely chord progression develops throughout the song. Track 3: Little Angel features solo piano on another lullaby-style song. It’s very warm and comforting. Track 4: First Love is a more ballad-like song, more contemplative and emotionally moving. The piano is joined by string ensemble to add a fuller texture. Solo piano takes the lead again in Track 5: Tokyo Rain. This lovely song is slow and contemplative, with an engaging melodic theme that the song returns to as each section is completed. 

Track 6: Beyond the Stars is a delicately wistful mood piece. Harp and string introduce the song, leading into a richer, layered sound with strings, bells, harp, and flute.  Track 7: In the Bleak Midwinter is a rendering of a favorite Yuletime song by Holst. The lovely arrangement incorporates piano and synth “oooo’s.” The song floats through variations on the song’s melody and chord progressions. Track 8: Hearts as One is a romantic ballad with a sensual melody line. Track 9: Highland Rose is a distinctively Celtic-style ballad. A fiddle and flute give a slightly jaunty feeling to this folk-style song. The final Track 10: Evening Prayer completes the album with a contemplative piano piece. Midway through the song, the piano is joined by strings, bell-tones, and choral “oooooo’s”. 

This is a truly lovely and exceptionally soothing album. It would be wiser to avoid putting this music on in the car while driving! Sparks handles his material like a pro. The arrangements are well-balanced and offer enough variety to keep the music interesting from piece to piece. The whole production is tasteful, restrained, and the music is performed with deep sensitivity and a light touch. Well done!

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Rick Sparks
Rick Sparks, 2017
10 tracks, 46:10 mins
CD $9/99, MP3 $7.99 on CDBaby