Songs of the Autumn Years

Mary Youngblood - Feed the Fire
Mary Youngblood – Feed the Fire
Mary Youngblood

Feed the Fire (Silver Wave Records, 2004)

I have already listened to this CD a few times. Aleut Native musician Mary Youngblood’s limitless talent shines through on this diverse recording and she stretches her wings even further than on her previous award-winning Beneath the Raven Moon. Feed the Fire which is dedicated to sisters and to their partners, fathers, lovers, grandfathers, nephews etc., reflects on a woman venturing into her “autumn years,” and the many gifts that surface during those years. One such gift in Mary’s case is a growth in confidence in her musical talent. On Beneath the Raven Moon, Mary added her vocal talents for the first time and on Feed the Fire, she is heard for the first time on piano and alto flute. Her piano and flute composition, Far From Home is a gorgeous Erik Satie-style piece embellished by Native American flute. And the baroque style Search for Warmth also lingers in the classical realm while alternately embarking on a flight of fancy.).

Mary, along with producer, multi-instrumentalist and composer Tom Wasinger explore a variety of musical styles and a rich palette of moods that range from Wasinger’s whimsical On This Journey to the hearty titular song that features a silky vocal duet with the illustrious Joanne Shenandoah. Mohican musician Bill Miller contributes his wails on the powerful Heart’s Desire. (Joanne Shenandoah and Bill Miller recently appeared along with Navajo/Ute Flautist R. Carlos Nakai on a PBS special).

The touted track on the CD, the upbeat, Passion to Ignite features Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull’s flute, Mary’s vocables set over a wash of tribal percussion, mountain dulcimer, hammered zither and kora. The end result is radio-friendly global music that goes beyond just stoking the fire. Similar to other tracks that appear on Feed the Fire, this one is also displays a great deal of imagination

Mary also offers her poetic gift to the CD. She contributes a poem that includes all the titles of Feed the Fire’s songs,

I’m on my way to feed the fire
I’m going to that sacred place far from home
where there are passions to ignite and dreams to find
for it is a long long road to our heart’s desire and to our destiny…
in the endless search for warmth on this journey.”

She tells stories of transformational relationships and the journey from childhood to old age that are soul provoking. And she dedicates her album to her birth mother, Nadia Tanade Mattson who died on October 17, 2003 and in special memory to a twenty-two year old Hopi/Navajo mother and soldier, Lori Piestewa who died on March 23, 2003. (She was the first American woman soldier to be killed on combat in a foreign country). However, Feed the Fire will leave its listeners feeling uplifted and its dedications reflect Mary Youngblood’s compassionate spirit.

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