The Beatrix Players caused a stir when they first came to our attention back in 2017.
After a hiatus, they have regrouped and expanded their line-up to include luminaries such as John Hackett on flute and Oliver Day on guitar. However, it is founding member Amy Birks who is the real driver on this album, returning with Helena Dove and guitarist Tom Manning, both of whom helped to write the Players' first album Magnified. Living & Alive is an album of innate beauty and charm, combining elements of classical and folk with an overriding prog twist. Its songs explore facets of life, in particular, the joy and the pain of the human condition.
Snowflakes starts in gentle fashion with Jane Fenton's stately cello, Amy Birks' glorious, peerless, expressive voice comes to the fore together with delightful guitar, piano and flute. Exquisite vocal harmonies give it texture and life. It has a truly wintry feeling.
Somebody Else's Eyes is a ballad featuring gorgeous cello and a trilling flute. This Is Your Life is a more upbeat song with a real oomph to it which also conveys a very important message - see title.
Start Again comes with some delightful elements such as a fantastic piano line and an infectious beat.
Amy's gloriously supple voice comes into its own on A Beautiful Lie which is a love story that isn't all it seems to be.
That piano is to the fore again on Overflow together with cello and a gorgeous swelling chorus.
Purgatory is a heart-rending song about child abuse during which Amy builds the emotion in her voice to really drive home the story.
You Can't Hit A Nail has a stately feel during which acoustic guitar, flute and elegant cello are to the fore.
Free is elegant, an electric guitar flying at the end and finally, Me, I Am Me serves as a closing affirmation to the album.
It is so wonderful to see the Beatrix Players regroup with this is lovely collection of songs that is guaranteed to chase away the winter blues.
**** Alison Reijman
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