Rick Sparks | Christmas Night | Album Review by Dyan Garris - 11/5/2020
Christmas Night by Rick Sparks
Album Review by Dyan Garris for Zone Music Reporter (ZMR), New Age CD, and “Spirit Seeker Magazine”
Excerpt: “’Christmas Night’ is a special, angelic, calming, rejuvenating, Christmas album that is a “must have” for this season and all those to come.” – Dyan Garris
“Christmas Night” is the 6th solo release for composer and pianist Rick Sparks. The instrumental album is 10 tracks and was partially inspired by the annual BBC broadcast of the King’s College Christmas Eve service held in Cambridge, England.
Most of the tracks on “Christmas Night” are from the 19th century and are perfect for Rick’s gorgeous neo-classical arrangements consisting of piano, strings, flute, bells, and angelic voices. There are 2 tracks on the album that are Rick’s original compositions.
“Christmas Night” opens with the title track, one of the originals by Rick. This instantly “says” Christmas with its soft, twinkly bells in the beginning of the piece. Sweet strings and angelic voices bring this all nicely together. This is a great composition, perfectly executed, and has a peaceful lullaby quality to it, which is very calming to the psyche.
The equally calming “Christ is Born” follows. The bells at the beginning are beautiful and soothing, as is the lovely angelic choir, giving this, and the entire album, actually, a truly heavenly quality. A Christmas favorite, “The First Noel” is gentle and soft, with the flute taking the lead melody in the beginning. The soft strings and piano arrangements are superb, with the angel voices adding an ethereal quality.
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” is another well-known seasonal favorite and this arrangement is completely wonderful in every way. The angelic choir voices have the melody in the beginning, bringing more comfort and solace to soothe the soul. Aptly, we can really feel and hear the angels singing here, and the song ends with an angelic acapella choir. Quite lovely!
With its flowing piano melody by Gustav Holst, beautifully played by Rick, “In the Bleak Midwinter” is a favorite on this album. Gentle strings and tender angelic voices complete the arrangement, which truly is exquisite.
“What Child is This?” may be familiar to many as the “Greensleeves” melody. Again, here, the arrangement is outstanding and a variation of the traditional melody at the end of the piece makes this very beautiful.
The melody for “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” dates back all the way to the 13th century. This is very much like a lullaby, with the addition of some original musical bridges by Rick. Another great arrangement here, with bells and angelic choir in the beginning, as well as sweet flute and more angel voices intertwined on the verses. Soft, gentle, sweet, and comforting.
As I mentioned earlier, the album “Christmas Night” was partly inspired by the King’s College Christmas Eve service. That service begins each year with the first verse from the carol, “Once in Royal David’s City,” which is sung acapella by a single boy’s voice. Here, Rick does the same, only with “angel voices.” Strings join in, and on the 3rd verse we have both angelic choir plus strings.
The quintessential carol, “Silent Night” is always peaceful and calming. Here, the flute takes the lead melody making this sweet as can be. Strings, tender piano, and the angelic choir elevate us and the song to the high heavens. Really nice.
The album closes out with the 2nd original composition by Rick on this album. “Nativity” is inspired by the music of English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Wonderfully written, composed, and played, strings and angel voices give a beautiful finish to this special album.
A note: When Rick asked if I would review this album, I told him I don’t review Christmas albums. It’s not that I’m a horrible Scrooge, but I am just not that “into” the season. He told me he thought I would really like this one and asked if I please give it a listen and reconsider. Well, I did so. And I don’t just like it. I love it. You will too. This album is a “must-have” for this season and beyond.
Listen and get it here: https://ricksparksmusic.hearnow.com/
Also available from Amazon Music, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and many other outlets.
Artist website: www.ricksparksmusic.net
LAZZ Promotions (Ed & Stacey Bonk)
Phone: (905) 470-1230
CHRISTMAS NIGHT REVIEW by BT Fasmer (New Age Music Guide) - 11/2/2020
When listening to Christmas carols, it is very easy to tell if the artist is genuine and “feeling it." There is little room for soulless performances and shortcuts when the audience already know and love the material. Other music genres tend to be more forgiving. This is one of the ingredients that makes Rick Sparks’ new album “Christmas Night” so special. It is inspired. You can tell that the instrumental carols are selected and performed with love. “Christmas Night” also contains two originals that bind the album together, making it into a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Rick Sparks began music lessons at age seven and got an early taste of public performance when he began playing piano in church as a teenager. A visit to an antique store in 2007 set a new musical direction for him when he heard a solo piano album playing in the background. This experience made him want to record New Age music. Sparks has so far released six albums: “Endless” (2014), “Matilda’s Flowers” (2016), “Nightfall London” (2017), “Half Moon Bay” (2018), “Hushabye” (2019) and “Christmas Night” (2020). In addition, Rick released the compilation album, “Dreams of Peace”, in 2019, a collection of his best songs. Rick Sparks is also the man behind the very popular Live365.com channel The Cove.
Regarding “Christmas Night”, Sparks says: “The album was inspired, in part, by a wonderful holiday tradition: the annual BBC broadcast of the King’s College Christmas Eve service in Cambridge, England. Each year, millions around the world listen as the service begins with a choir boy’s single voice singing “Once in Royal David’s City.” That 19th-century carol perfectly sets the tone for the entire service, strikingly beautiful in its simplicity and reverence.”
Christmas Night - The Songs
“Christmas Night” starts with the title track, which is an original. Gentle as falling snow, the theme instantly conjures the Christmas spirit in us. The bell-like synth and strings are soon joined by heavenly singers who transforms this snowy night into something divine. It is beautiful beyond words, totally unpretentious and honest. “Christmas Night” is, in short, a wonderful composition. Bravo!
“Christ is Born”, which we know from The Carpenters’ 1978 album “Christmas Portrait”, starts with church bells and choir. I love the deep synth pads and the gentle lead instrument. The piece is filled with classical inspiration, and of course the memory of Perry Como’s vocal – who discovered and made this song famous in the 1960s (it was originally written in Latin by Domenico Bartolucci). Strangely enough, the piece feels complete – even without Como.
The First Noel
“The First Noel” is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever written. Sparks’ version shows his ability to use strings to perfection, making the choir sounds divine. I like the sharp sounding bells and the tender sounding flute, making it easy to envision how “The wise men learnt its cause of stay, And found the place where Jesus lay.” Wonderful, just wonderful.
“The First Noel” fades into “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, which is always a terrific “bridge”. The angel choir is arranged with love and skill. The acapella ending is superb.
In the Bleak Midwinter
One of the finest pieces on the album is “In the Bleak Midwinter”. Gustav Holst’s classical melody goes straight to the heart, many thanks to Sparks’ arrangement with piano, strings and angelic voices. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I like how the piece develops, from the lonely piano in the intro to the full arrangement in the end, creating a warm and loving Christmas atmosphere.
Sparks’ take on “What Child Is This”, including a new bridge of descending chords with strings and voices, is elegant, playful, and pristine. The analog synth keys are great, backed by Sparks string magic. The same can be said about “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”, a traditional Polish carol – which also has one of Sparks’ creative and well-made bridges.
Once in Royal David’s City
As mentioned above, “Christmas Night” is inspired by King’s College Christmas Eve service. I’m extremely impressed by the vocal arrangement; It is not easy making it sound as good as this. Usually, vocal synths are used for backing – but here they carry the whole song, like a real choir. “Silent Night” proves this once more; you can almost “hear” the lyrics, it is that good! The flute section too is magnificent.
The album-closing “Nativity”, the second original piece, both defines and rounds off “Christmas Night” in a glorious way. It is, according to Sparks, inspired by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Given the selection of eternal Christmas music on the album, one should think that “Nativity” would sound more like an original – a bit out of place and less like a classic – but it is really on par with many of the carols here. That is a major accomplishment.
In conclusion: Rick Sparks has delivered a superb Holiday album! “Christmas Night” is close to a perfect release, many thanks to the way the two original carols bind the album together. I’m also amazed by how a synth album can communicate the atmosphere of the King’s College Christmas Eve service, which usually requires hundreds of singers and musicians, plus the enormity of the King’s College Cambridge chapel. Just like the famous service, “Christmas Night” offers a rich and rewarding listening experience. It is a gift to the world.
For more information and music samples, visit https://ricksparksmusic.hearnow.com/
“(I was honored to have Dreams of Peace chosen by Kathy Parsons as a "Kathy's Pick" album at MainlyPiano.com!) Dreams of Peace: The Very Best of Rick Sparks Rick Sparks 2019 / Rick Sparks Music 61 minutes Review by Kathy Parsons Dreams of Peace: The Very Best of Rick Sparks is one of the most relaxing and soothing albums you are likely to hear anytime soon! It is a collection of fourteen of Sparks’ most peaceful pieces from his five “quiet-music” albums released since 2014 (all five are reviewed on MainlyPiano.com!). Sparks’ music is often heard on “Sleep Radio” in New Zealand, which should be a helpful point of reference. With the motto of “Music to replenish your spirit,” Sparks has created a body of work that is more melodic than ambient, but still has that easy flow and beauty that uplifts the soul and provides a respite from some of the harsh realities of life around us - at least temporarily. In addition to original compositions and occasional covers, Sparks often includes familiar hymns on his albums, as he does on this one. “Brian [Wilson] always said that God gave him his songs - I feel the same about my music. My ultimate goal is to glorify Jesus Christ in everything I do. He's a big part of my music helping to 'replenish your spirit.'" Dr. Rick Sparks (Ph.D.) also serves as professor of mass communication at North Greenville University South Carolina and plays keyboards in his church worship band near Spartanburg, SC. The album begins with Sparks’ beautiful arrangement of Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” one of my favorite pop songs. Performed on keyboards, the instrumentation includes flutes, strings and vibes as well as the sounds of rain and thunder. I have heard a lot of great arrangements of this classic, but this is one of the most peaceful. “Little Flower” is serene and soothing with piano, strings, wordless vocals - profound in its simplicity. “No Greater Love” was one of my favorites on Hushabye from earlier this year, and it’s a favorite on this album as well. “Sand and Stars,” for piano, wordless vocals, strings and guitar, could be the musical definition of “peaceful” - so smooth and tranquil. “And She Dreams” is almost magical with its slow, simple piano melody, angelic voices and strings. “Be Still, My Soul” seems to be one of the favorite hymns among pianists and this is one of a few piano solos on the album - simple, direct and sincere, it’s a lovely arrangement. The title track also comes from Hushabye with shimmering flutes and ethereal strings providing an extended intro before the piano enters with the melody - both dreamy and peaceful! “Tokyo Rain” has a very quiet Japanese sound and is another piano solo - gentleness set to music! “Memories of Her” reminds me a bit of Kevin Kern - always a compliment! - with piano and strings and an unforgettable melody. Sparks’ instrumental arrangement of the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” brings the album to a sweet and sentimental close. If you are new to Rick Sparks’ music or if you’d like a compilation of his best music, Dreams of Peace: The Very Best of Rick Sparks is a must-have! It is available from RickSparksMusic.net, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and many streaming sites. December 3, 2019 ” - Kathy Parsons
“DREAMS OF PEACE: THE VERY BEST OF RICK SPARKS REVIEW BY STEVE SHEPPARD, ONE WORLD MUSIC RADIO Rick Sparks has pulled off something of a master stroke here on this his greatest hits album Dreams of Peace; it’s a release perfect for the holiday season and for any time of year, it is jam packed with loving and warm compositions from his albums over the years. Each piece has been throughout time lovingly put together, and with such a thoughtful mind and heart, like this new version of Sting's Fields of Gold, a piece I know very well, as it was part of my singing course a few years back. Here the keyboards of Sparks create one of the mellowest moods you are ever likely to hear in a recreation of this ballad. With offerings like Little Flower the keys are stroked with a tenderness that is sublime, and come from his last soothing collection of great music Hushabye, then onto Dream Angus, a composition that originally takes us back to 2014 and his album Endless, and as if you may have guessed by the title, it has a sumptuous Celtic refrain to its energies. The exciting but mellow First Love, through to the more recent No Greater Love, both contain such an emotive signature to them and hold a sensitive angelic repose with ease. For our next offering we return to Half Moon Bay with the piece Sand and Stars, an album of outstanding natural beauty, the perfect track, for the perfect album, one which floats with a translucent beauty into the arms of this next pleasurable sojourn in music called And She Dreams. There can be no doubt, that by the time you reach here, your mood will be totally chilled. The second half of this 14 track collection of greatest hits gives us offerings like Be Still My Soul, the last track off the 2014 album Endless, and the inspiring Dreams of Peace, from the last album Hushabye, both tracks are bathed in the perceptive and delicate time signatures of classic new age music from the decades. Tokyo Rain is one of those tracks you just can’t stop listening to, it’s eastern styled melody and tones make a wonderful juxtaposition to the following composition entitled In the Bleak Midwinter, this connection of moods gives us our first Christmas classic as well, and in my view, one of the most relaxing versions I have ever heard. We can drift back to Sparks quite moving release from 2016 called Matilda’s Flowers, through this next song called Memories of Her, a personal favourite of mine, it’s warm structures and keyboards manifest a song that should be used in a movie romance scene. Our last two magical compositions comprise of When the Stars Come Out, a track to ease the soul and soothe the mind, and our final opus of grandeur in the ever young Auld Lang Syne, a piece of music that is usually the very last one to be played at the end of each year; the performance on this arrangement is as it should be, uplifting and thoroughly connective. Rick Sparks has done it again, it’s the end of the year, but he has graced the musical airwaves with something so beautiful and tranquil it’s the perfect Christmas gift. Sparks is one of those artists who will always manifest something special, warm and all-encompassing, and an album that contains such tender loving warm compositions on it like this, must always be completely recommended. ” - Steve Sheppard
“Hushabye by Rick Sparks (Self-released) www.ricksparksmusic.net On the cover, keyboardist/pianist Sparks' latest release is subtitled "Sail away to dreamland," and he's not kidding. These 11 tracks, centered round serene, minimalist piano melodies, framed by orchestral strings and angelic choirs, will almost certainly guide the most irrepressible and rambunctious young 'uns to the land of Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Soothing in the extreme, with nary a moment of drama to distract from the flowing sensation of peace and contentment, these melodies could also serve well as massage music for us "old-timers" or as a way to help the parents of the aforementioned children to relax and de-stress after a busy day. Low volume playback is advisable, of course. ” - Bill Binkelman
“Hushabye (2019) - Rick Sparks Review by Steve Sheppard (online review & albums features HERE) Rick Sparks has sealed an everlasting legacy as a musician who can soothe and calm his listeners with the first few bars of any song he has recorded, his crafted approach is a gift that many just hope to find, and it is this genius we discover on this his latest release called Hushabye. At many times in our lives, we will require places of peace, moments of solitude and sanctuaries of the soul, this album can create all three, simply put meditative relaxing music has never been in such safe hands. "This is a beautiful moving album, filled full of tones that touch with ease the hem of the neo classical genre, and moments of magic like the tracks Love Can Make You Happy and Dreams of Peace, are but two fine examples of this soothing narrative of calm. "The softness and tender performance that Sparks gives is a delight to listen to on its own, especially on one of my favourite tracks entitled When The Stars Came Out, the angelic harmonies and flute just add a further layer of tranquillity to the proceedings. Then we can then simply float on offerings like the soft and serene tones of And She Dreams, and be completely lulled to a faraway land with the composition We Are Loved, the track that ends this stunning album. "Hushabye is an album that children will adore falling asleep to, it is a release that anyone of any age at all, would love to just have playing around them, for it is from these very peaceful arrangements that each of us will find those moments of calming grace and perhaps even a sojourn into a world of restful slumber. Hushabye is another loving creation manifested by Rick Sparks, it is the musical equivalent of having a loved one put an arm around you and tell you everything is going to be alright, an absolute meditative must for all serious music lovers.” - Steve Sheppard
“(Special thanks to Kathy Parsons for making Hushabye a "Kathy's Pick" album on MainlyPiano.com!) Hushabye Rick Sparks 2019 / Rick Sparks Music 43 minutes 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 ” - Kathy Parsons
“(Following is Steve Sheppard's review of our 2018 end-of-year single, Auld Lang Syne. Steve is the programmer for Europe's largest online radio station, One World Music Radio.) REVIEW OF RICK SPARKS' AULD LANG SYNE "I had been listening to some extremely chilled classical music whilst reading my book over this festive period, when suddenly the opportunity came up to write a review for Rick Spark’s latest single, his version of the classic Auld Lang Syne. Quite appropriately for this time of year. I was still in a place of bliss thanks to his Half Moon Bay album and here we have more of the same beauty in music, the same wonderful floating and angelic narrative is given to this endless piece of peace. Sparks has really done this famous opus justice and created for us probably the most uplifting and soulful version ever of this composition. The style is a real mixture of classical, new age and a little Celtic, all masterfully arranged and gifted to us the ever eager listener. If you would really like a warm and loving version of this song, then without a doubt I can recommend this version by Rick Sparks. It’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and a hug to your heart, and of course simply the best musical way to end the year." -Steve Sheppard, One World Music Radio. ” - Steve Sheppard
“Half Moon Bay REVIEW BY JANET MAWDESLEY OCTOBER 8, 2018, 12:50 PM Dreamy and refreshing, this peaceful collection Half Moon Bay from the piano of Rick Sparks is an absolute delight, inspired by his love of the ocean and the love and enjoyment of the peace, relaxation and beauty there to be found and enjoyed. A lover of the Beach Boys music of the ‘60s and their brilliance at being able to capture the very essence of the beat, the vibe and the spiritual nature of the ocean, Sparks has used the legacy Brian Wilson created and his love of the ocean as inspiration. The track Half Moon Bay composed by Brian Wilson is a slightly softer version of the original but has that unmistakable finger picking style of acoustic guitar added to the piano melody to tweak the memory. This tribute is shown throughout the album with the Lonely Sea a slow, moody rendition introduced with the sound of surf breaking and Summers Gone, an iconic Beach Boys tracks, offered with a gentle reverence to create an ethereal and introspective piece. Penned as Wilson looks back over the halcyon days of his life, accepting that summer and indeed gone and the days of peace and acceptance are a beautiful reward, Summers Gone was the last song on their final album recorded in 2012. First Light is introduced as synthesiser song, solemn and peaceful, it has been written in tribute to the morning rays of the sun slowly climbing over the horizon to grace the ocean with it glorious colour just for that one, perfect moment in time. The refreshing and often longed for fresh summer sea breeze on a day of intense heat, has been captured in Whisper in the Wind, an evocative piece with a lovely addition of flute and vocals. Sunset Dreams is as it is titled, a tribute to the slow and often spectacular drawing on of the day by the ocean regardless of the time of year. Following on from his last release (Nightfall London), this album has the same trademark magic created by Rick Sparks as he pays tribute to the ocean and the peace and tranquility that can be discovered there. Once again, an inspired and talented album. ” - Janet Mawdesley
“HALF MOON BAY - Profile & artist interview by Robert Silverstein. With a timely dose of sonic brain relief, Rick Sparks channels the music gods on his 2018 CD, Half Moon Bay. A fine follow up to Rick’s 2017 CD Nightfall London, the ten track Half Moon Bay features a wealth of new original music along with a decidedly Southern California influence, especially when you consider there’s several Brian Wilson classics, redone here in Rick’s New Age / contemporary instrumental music style. Fascinating to note here is the album title track, Half Moon Bay, itself a cover of a Brian Wilson instrumental from 2015’s No Pier Pressure. Rick adds, “How natural that Brian titled his song “Half Moon Bay” after a little surfing community on the California coast. That song was the perfect choice to be the title cut on my new album.” Rick cites his strong religious beliefs as the foundation for his spiritual approach to music to which he adds, "I can’t imagine not having the inner peace and assurance that comes from my Christian faith. It’s so natural that whatever is in the heart of an artist will be evident in his or her music. In a world that is increasingly dark and worrisome to all of us, producing music that helps the hearer experience peace and beauty is such a privilege for me… it’s basically an outgrowth of the peace that comes from my faith in Jesus Christ. He created the universe, He gave us the priceless gift of music, and He proved His love for us a long time ago on an old rugged cross." A gifted musician who grew up in the heartland of the American south, Rick Sparks transcends musical borders on the brilliant and soothing instrumental sound of Half Moon Bay, an album that, as Rick appropriately states, “feeds the soul, inspires and uplifts.” (Read Robert Silverstein's 2018 interview w. Rick at www.mwe3.com/reviews/RickSparks2018) ” - Robert Silverstein
“(Half Moon Bay is a "Kathy's Pick" album by Kathy Parsons of MainlyPiano.com - "highly recommended.") Half Moon Bay Rick Sparks 2018 / Rick Sparks Music 48 minutes Review by Kathy Parsons Half Moon Bay is pianist/keyboardist Rick Sparks’ fifth album to date and is a combination of seven original compositions that celebrate the peaceful nature of being by the ocean plus three instrumental arrangements of songs by Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys). Right upfront, I want to stay that there are no toe-tappers on this album - Wilson’s pieces are quiet and serene - no “I Get Around” or “Little Deuce Coupe” (although that could have been interesting with strings and “angel voices.” But I digress!). To quote Sparks: “There’s something special about the ocean. The beach is a great place to relax, meditate, commune with nature, fall in love, nurture love or just escape from the pressures of everyday life.” There are so many different moods and colors of the ocean, but Sparks keeps this album centered on the tranquility of calm seas and gentle breezes. As a result, the tone of the album stays very even throughout - no storm warnings or pounding surf. So, if you are looking for a real stress-buster to unwind with or to set a warm and cozy mood, Half Moon Bay should do that for you!Half Moon Bay begins with “Sand and Stars,” a piece for piano, strings, guitar and wordless vocals. This piece could be used to define the word “peaceful” with its slow graceful flow and sense of complete calm. Images come to mind of a night with a full moon and brightly sparkling stars reflecting off of the water as it gently laps at the shore. The title track is the first of Wilson’s songs on the album. Named for a small coastal town on the central California coast, the piece first appeared on one of Wilson’s more recent albums (2015) and reflects on the inner peace that Wilson found later in life. Guitar, flute, layered voices and synth strings are the primary instrumentation in this beautiful piece. The title for “Sunlight In Her Hair” comes from a line in The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and is mostly acoustic finger-style guitar and synth strings - slow, melodic and smooth as glass. “You’re So Nice” is the only piano solo and captures the sweet innocence of first love - a favorite! Much more ambient, “First Light” was inspired by the peace and solitude of an early-morning sunrise over the ocean. Piano, layered voices, and synth effects evoke gentle pastel images and soothe the soul - also a favorite. “Lonely Sea” was originally recorded in 1962, early in The Beach Boys’ career. It begins with the sound of crashing waves before strings, flute, guitar and voices express the deeply poignant nature of this beautiful song. “Summer’s Gone” was on The Beach Boys’ final album in 2012. Piano, strings and voices create feelings of longing and nostalgia while reflecting on the warmth and beauty of past memories. I think I’ve turned into one big puddle, but it sure feels good!Half Moon Bay is one of the most relaxing albums I’ve heard in a while, so if you need a little calm in your life or know someone who does, this is an excellent choice! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. October 6, 2018” - Kathy Parsons