Mystic Harmony,
Kindle a Flame
(Mister Carmody, 2005)

When I first received Kindle a Flame by Mystic Harmony, I was already dreading listening to it. With a name like Mystic Harmony, I thought I was in for some new-age torture. Am I ever so glad that I was wrong! I was caught off guard by Mystic Harmony's three beautiful voices and, as a lover of Celtic music, I instantly knew I had a CD treasure in my possession.

Before I give you my impression of some of the tracks, let me mention that Mystic Harmony consists of Janet Booth on flute, Mary Anne Brundage on Celtic harp and Janice Mawson on keyboard and grand piano. The vocals, led by Mary Anne, are very powerful. I immediately thought of some of the vocals I had heard in churches while growing up. When these three harmonize, it will almost bring tears to your eyes.

The title track, "Kindle the Flame," sounds like it might have come from a musical on Broadway -- probably due to the vocals of these impressive ladies. The song, in fact, comes from Iona, Scotland. According to the liner notes, this tune inspired much of the album.

I am a big fan of Loreena McKennitt (another singer/harpist). Mystic Harmony does wonderful instrumental renditions of two of her older works: "Snow" and "Lullaby." Despite the lack of vocals, there is still something mystical with the music. You can feel the same spiritual uplifting that you get from the originals; I do not think any fan of Loreena would be disappointed in these tributes to her musical greatness.

"The Gift of Love" is another song that showcases the trio's touching vocals. Set to the tune of "The Water is Wide," the song is reflective, contemplative and calming. With the notes these women hit, they could easily change their group's name to "Perfect Harmony" and I would not think of them as braggarts.

Before I close, I should not fail to mention the guest musicians that helped the trio on certain selections from this CD. Paul Bell played guitar. Heidi Gerber handled electric bass. Elise Kress performed on the pennywhistle. Charlie Pilzer was on the upright string bass. Last, Tom Teasley took care of percussion.

While listening to Kindle a Flame, I often wish they would come play at the Scarborough Faire (the spring Renaissance Festival) in Waxahachie, Texas. Alas, these ladies are based in Northern Virginia, so that is unlikely to happen. I will have to console myself with the CD. If you enjoy Celtic music and can appreciate strong, passionate, yet spiritual harmonizing vocals, you now know about some mystics than can kindle your flame.

by Wil Owen
10 June 2006

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