Picks and Pans Review: First Move
It would be a shame if Alexander suffered because she is hard to categorize. At times she sounds a little like a repressed rock and roller; at times like a Broadway belter; sometimes she’s reminiscent of a traditional country belle; at others of that pop-country paragon Anne Murray.
Maybe the example of Murray is the one Alexander should warm to—a singer who is clearly her own woman yet close enough musically to Nashville to convince the radio programmers and chart makers that’s where she belongs. Alexander even has a head start, having grown up in Fort Worth, site of a lot more country music roots than might be found in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Murray’s home town.
Not that Alexander is likely to twang her way to the top. She sings with no accent either way. What’s distinctive about her voice is a warm, rich intonation that arouses sympathy in her he-done-me-wrong tunes and vicarious pleasure when she’s in a musically romantic mood.
She had a hand in writing all 10 songs on the album. She and Anna Lisa Graham, for instance, lent an ironic touch to “Fairytale Fool”: “Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall/ You forgot to tell it all/ I thought by now I’d have my sweet prince/ And by the way, where’s that white picket fence.” On her own, Alexander wrote “She’s There”: “I can’t believe what you’re not telling me/ But the way you hide it makes it so clear to see.”
On this debut album Alexander sings in front of a solid Nashville studio band whose orientation, as much as anything, determines the section of the music store this album will end up in. Even if a clerk makes a real mistake and sticks it in the French import section with Charles Aznavour and Sylvie Vartan, though, First Move is worth whatever effort you have to exert to find it. (PolyGram)