Heather Alexander,
Life's Flame
(SeaFire Productions, 1996)

Heather Alexander, formally of the Celtic fusion band Phoenyx, follows up her first album, Wanderlust, with Life's Flame.

Life's Flame is a compilation of three live concerts recorded in Berkeley in July 1996. The songs contained are both old and new; fans will be pleased hearing her old songs while delighting in some of the newer material.

The album showcases Alexander's vocal talent as well as her ability to play a variety of instruments: guitar, violin, mandolin and bodhran. While her ability to play the instruments is extremely impressive, it is this captivating red-head's voice that dominates the music and makes this album such a delight. Life's Flame also contains short clips of Alexander's speaking voice as she introduces some of the songs during her concerts. The listener will notice that she is just as animated speaking as she is singing.

Life's Flame is intermixed with ballads and a foot-tapping discography. Some songs, such as "Something Dark," are filk; this particular one sings a story from the popular fantasy series Elfquest. "The Garden" metaphorically asks questions of love and trust within a set of long-gone castle gardens.

The most captivating of all the songs is "Creature of the Wood." Written by her husband, Phillip R. Obermarck, and accompanies only by Alexander's guitar, this song demonstrates not only her guitar-playing abilites, but also shows the emotional depth and heighth Alexander can attain with her voice. This song lyrically explores the Celtic and European folklore and mythologies from which Alexander takes much of her musical inspiration.

While I loved the music Alexander puts forth in the album, the one item which struck me as odd was the placement of songs. Foot-tapping music that build emotions are followed by soft slow ballads which tease the heart strings. It is an order which can be highly disconcerting as one is forced to quickly change gears of emotional state. However, as a compilation and live album, you can almost forgive the order of songs on the album as each song on its own is a treat to the ear.

SeaFire Productions is Heather Alexander's own music publishing company. It can be found online here.

[ by Jade Falcon ]

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