Review by Aaron Cloutier
I think what strikes me the most about “Sparkle In Your Eyes” from “Monsters Who Sleep is the refreshing perspective taken on a traditional acoustic ballad when it comes to the craft of it all.
Apart from the arpeggiated guitar chords, Soft crooning pop-punk style vocals (Blink 182 comes to mind as I listen), orchestral strings, and clean guitar swipes, there’s an astute approach to the songwriting that I don’t remember hearing before in this particular genre.
“Sparkle In Your Eye” in essence, is a love song penned by singer-songwriter Joshua Richard. He describes the inspiration for the song being centered around the theme of him and his love interest in persevering together even when things get tough. Listeners will undoubtedly pick up on the vibe when hearing lyrics like
“'Cause we're still young
Have time to run
Away from all our troubles
Until they catch back up”.
I want to dig a little deeper here though so let’s look under the hood a bit and see how the music itself reflects the lyrical content.
The song is in the key of G major and the chorus has some clever exchanging of chords going on.
During the first half, Richard has the progression starting on the 2, chord (Am) to create a somber mood before shifting to the 5, (D) and 1 chord (G). At this point, things are sounding nice and sunny and I thought it was going to remain that way throughout. What I was pleasantly surprised to hear was the detour back into minor territory as the first half of the progression lands on an Em chord (the 6th). This musical and emotional rollercoaster serves to provide a subtle feeling of yearning as the lyrics “I see that sparkle in your eyes And feel like heaven when I see you smile” play out. Whether or not that was intentional, there’s some serious prosody going on.
The cleverness continues in the second half as virtually every chord repeats with just one exception. Instead of setting things up around the 2 chords, the second half begins with C major. The 4 chords. With this in place, the subsequent 5 chord works to build tension into a perfect cadence as it descends back down to the 1. And yet, Richard is not finished here as he finishes things off once again landing on the dark and brooding 6 chords.
As if the song wasn’t catchy enough, Richard decides to through in some “Oh Oh Oh’s” to accentuate the slide guitar solo that closes out the song.
All in all, a tender, heartfelt ballad with erudite attention to craft. I think you’ll enjoy it.
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About Monsters Who Sleep
Monsters Who Sleep is the flagship dream Joshua Richard held since childhood. Summed up by his early influence, Never Shout Never: "...to make an honest living with an old guitar, and a couple old fashion songs." With three full-length albums, Joshua has proven to himself and his listeners that he is a madman. Debut X, sophomore, Beyond the Inevitable Murmur and awaited To Whomever It Becomes... formed a perfect triptych in less than a year.
Learn more about Monsters Who Sleep on their website