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Xanthe Alexis releases timely new album



Xanthe Alexis will be performing songs from her new album, Time of War, at the Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies this Saturday. - DENNIS NEJTEK
  • Dennis Nejtek
  • Xanthe Alexis will be performing songs from her new album, Time of War, at the Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies this Saturday.

There's an anecdote related in the 2006 documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? wherein a record executive is confused why Nilsson never credits the "fantastic backing vocalists" who perform on his records. Of course, the backing vocal tracks were all recorded by Nilsson himself, a fact he humorously revealed by having three of himself pop up and sing together in a 1971 BBC television special.

While local folksinger Xanthe Alexis' debut solo album, Time of War, does feature some impressive guest appearances by Curtis Boucher and Harriett Landrum, the majority of the backing vocals on the record are Alexis herself, and the subtle orchestrations she achieves using only her guitar and wide-ranging voice are often arresting, indeed.

"For this record, I knew I wanted the most bare, non-frills sound I could muster," explains Alexis, "So that meant months of rehearsing and putting the songs together like puzzle pieces."

Recorded with Adam Hawkins at Right Heel Music in a mere six hours, Time of War is a refreshingly stripped-down and intimate album. Despite the swift recording process, nothing about the 10 songs seems rushed; instead, tracks like the sighing "Poets," the fiery "Mon Ange" and the country-tinged "White Dove" sparkle with first-take vitality and a clarity achieved by the rigorous pre-production time Alexis spent writing her arrangements.

"I like thinking of recording as more of a snapshot of a moment," says Alexis. "I knew I wanted it to feel very private, and if I over-thought the actual recording, that intimacy would be lost. That pressure to get it all in one day pushed me to bring all the emotion to the surface in a raw, uncensored way."

The title Time of War certainly has contemporary connotations, but the songs, written over a three-year span, also evoke an array of old-world imagery and an emotional landscape that transcends all periods of time. Alexis admits that she's always been fascinated by love stories that span time and space, and says the album ponders the emotions and relationships that make up the core of human experiences, even in times of struggle.

"In times of war and chaos, people are just people," says Alexis. "Loving and losing, grieving, fighting for their families and dreams. I like thinking about how [that] is the thread that connects us. Piecing together this story of redemption, madness and love helped me navigate my own dark night of the soul. It made me feel there was something on the other side of that darkness."

Alexis, who recently toured California and will head out on a brief tour to New York City and the East Coast in the spring, will celebrate the release of Time of War with a performance at Manitou Springs' Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies on Saturday, Dec. 17.

A few more upcoming shows and announcements of note:

Critically lauded, Minnesota-based emcee Brother Ali, a central figure of the Rhymesayers Entertainment collective, performs at the Black Sheep on Dec. 14, followed by label-mate Abstract Rude (see story, p. 30) on Dec. 16.

For those who like their metal high-concept, or just like singing along to "Silent Lucidity"— and, honestly, who among us doesn't?—Queensrÿche hits the Black Sheep on Dec. 15.

Hot on the heels of Flux Capacitor's anniversary, the Triple Nickel Tavern celebrates its own anniversary on Dec. 17 with a show featuring California-based ska act Despicable Good Guys, Los Angeles punk band No Advisory and locals Had I Known.

Looking further ahead, following Leon Russell's unfortunate passing last month, Colorado Springs will be graced with a performance by his protégé, one Sir Elton John, at the Broadmoor World Arena on March 16. Elton John, one of the more successful and beloved singer-songwriters of the 21st century, needs little introduction, and the stop in the Springs should be enticing for fans, as it is part of a very brief, 11-date "Wonderful Crazy Night Tour." Tickets are now on sale.

Continuing the circle of influence, there will likely also be some music fans excited to know that advance tickets are now available for a group of Elton John fans who took a slightly louder musical path, notorious hard-rock act Guns N' Roses. The mostly-but-not-entirely original lineup (look, Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan are there) brings the "Not in This Lifetime Tour" to Denver's Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Aug. 2.

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