Winter is such a beautiful season! On his new release Winter Wishes, Mark Barnes’ gives the listener a unique glimpse into a magical, icy world. The wonderful, well-crafted melodies and gentle arrangements make the snow-clad landscape come to life. Indeed, the album makes it easy to understand why winter themed releases are popular all year round. Mark Barnes’ Winter Wishes is a heartwarming release, perfect for romantic occasions or creative work.
Mark Barnes is a multi-award winning composer and musician. He won the 2008 Independent National Artist of the year award from the Phoenix Music Awards – and his work on the music for the Docu-Drama “City of Dreams” with Carol Connors won the Best Theme Song at the 2011 TCI Film Festival. At The Akademia Music Awards, Barnes was awarded with the 2020 Vision and the 2021 Rising Star Awards.
Barnes has recorded 12 albums. In my review of his 2019 album The Path, I wrote that “Barnes transforms everyday moments into beautiful and inspiring music. He describes events we all can relate to; romantic love, remembering a friend, the feeling of being lost and more. I wholeheartedly recommend The Path to everyone in search of an inspiring album.”
The album opener is called Winter Sky. It starts gently, as if painting a picture of a gray heaven and the year’s first snowflakes falling silently. But it is not to last; suddenly the sky opens and winds come crashing in. A momentous melody rises from Barnes’ piano; It is beautiful beyond words. Then the tender opening theme is back, building up to a very rewarding conclusion. Winter Sky is, in short, a phenomenal opening!
Next out is The Snow Globe. Childhood memories of snow filled glass globes paired with a longing for winter make The Snow Globe especially heartwarming and memorable. The neo classical, orchestral touch gives the piece a romantic feel. Talking about romance, Winter Wishes is fantastic as background music for a better dinner with the one you love. Cold music warms the heart, I think.
A key track on the album is Chilled Out. It is this kind of compositions Barnes do so well. With a delightful hint of ambient, the piano transports us to a relaxing and laid-back sphere in a universe far away. It might snow there, but the atmosphere is warm and inviting. The bright and reflective piano makes the listener hang on to each note. The mid-section is delightful. Snow Angel is a jewel – or perhaps snow crystal is a better word. It is so beautiful! You only have to listen to it once to “get it”, thanks to its well-crafted melody and arrangement. My favorite piece on the album is Solstice. Notice the dynamic build-up and epic conclusion. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
The title track has a hint of melancholy that makes the ending special and momentous. Once you have started listening, there is no way you can turn off without hearing it all; the listener needs to know if the wishes come true. One word: Bravo!
Talking about music with an interesting narrative; next out is The Faerie Forest. Barnes leads us deep into an enchanted forest. I love the arrangement and the use of strings and repetitions to make the soundscape almost hypnotic. The melody flows delightfully.
Wonders of the World
My favorite piece on the album is Wonders of the World. The elegant tune starts carefully, slowly gathering momentum. I always find myself hanging on to each note – this is music for active listening only – and wow, what a magnificent theme Barnes has in store for us! Pick your wonder of the world, and this melody will take you there in an instant. The track shows Barnes ability to compose melodic jewels that will brighten any playlist of piano based music. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself:
Nearer the end, Rhapsody of Winter makes us see the winter for what it is; beautiful on the one side and ruthless on the other. It is a well-balanced, neo classical composition. The piano sounds incredible! Aurora rounds off the release meditatively. The heavenly choir at the end reminds us that wishes really come true.
In conclusion: Listening to Mark Barnes’s new album got me thinking about an Anamika Mishra quote; “Winter is not a season, it’s a celebration.” Each piece on the album communicates that feeling of being almost overwhelmed by the beauty of winter, as Barnes’ portray different aspects of the season – from the massive Winter Sky to a tiny Snow Angel. I must also mention the beautiful cover artwork. If you want to know what this album is all about, just look at the front cover. Rarely have I seen a picture montage that captures the essence of an album so well.
Winter Wishes contains some truly incredible melodies. Listen to Solstice and you’ll experience it too. The melodic qualities make an impression from the first listen. Some would prefer having a genuine orchestra play the pieces, of course, but as a fan of synth based music, I very much love the sound and expression on Winter Wishes.
As a concept album, it is natural to focus on snow and everything else that belongs to the winter. That said, you can also choose not to focus on the cold season at all. The album is great for relaxation, reading or studying, even on a warm summer’s day. It is especially suited for fantasy reading, thanks to its magical and mystical atmosphere.
I’m tempted to say that most (if not all!) of my winter music wishes have been fulfilled by Mark Barnes’ fantastic new album. Make a wish, press play and see where the music might take you!
For more information and music samples, visit markbarnesmusic.com.
Also, see our Mark Barnes coverage: newagemusic.guide/tag/mark-barnes