Heather Rose has her tongue so far in her cheek that you couldn't be blamed for thinking she might be making a porn flick…and the irony of that image would suit her just fine, as several of the cuts in Spark the Chain are almost grim in their imagery and innuendo, especially My Little Star, a song about stage mothers. On the other hand, she also wrote an ode to Kermit the Frog and all our Sesame Street Days. You never know quite what Heather's going to come up with as you listen to Spark the Chain.
Big City Blues is almost a slinkier answer to Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler), all nightclub loungey and kinda June Christy-ish. Ms. Rose possesses abundant cool, and the following track, Beautiful Lie, reinforces the conviction. Still…there's a problem to Spark the Chain and Rainy Day clearly shows what it is. Heather's style and compositions demand a big production, and Ed Goldfarb's keyboards try hard to provide it, succeeding nicely on that cut, a really beautiful song with its layered orchestral strains, but the success only more clearly contrasts lacks earlier in the disc. Rose's voice is marvelous throughout the tune and on the follower, matrixed as it should be in lush environments, not to mention the fact that she works very well when bouncing off a larger 3-D ambiance anyway, but comes up a bit short otherwise…not that the vocals are missing but rather the accompaniments.
There's much to like here, not the least of which is the largely delicate beauty of Rose's voice (a tone that isn't always best displayed in pop-ier moments), an instrument which reminds me of Lesley Duncan's solo work brought to its fullest powers, and her acumen in crafting melodies is smooth and attractive (listen especially to Meadow of Memories). Thus, my comments shouldn't be taken to disparage what's truly breathtaking here, but the difference between the start of the CD and what eventuates at the end is fairly sharp. Had it all been in that later mode…wow!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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