If there is one characteristic that best describes Alex Nester, it is that she possesses that fighting spirit, both off and on stage. And she has handled professional demands and personal trials with a maturity beyond her twenty-six years.
Though Nester’s long hard road to fame had its share of disappointments, including her short lived American Idol journey in 2010, nothing would compare to the scary health issues she faced . Nester’s gruesome battle with cancer (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) at sixteen years old interrupted her musical commitments for a year. Yet being knocked down for such a short season just strengthened Nester’s spiritual outlook on life and her musical purpose was stronger than ever. Now cancer free for the past ten years, Nester’s passion is more focused on raising awareness of the deadly disease and in how one deals with the aftermath. She is equally emphatic about sharing her life-changing experiences in an auto-tune free, blues-powered package of pop, soul, R&B, gospel, funk and jazz. Nester’s compelling personality is reflected on her 2009 debut, Rattle The Walls, and her latest release, #Burn It Down-- inspired by a recent musical fundraiser for The American Cancer Society, “#BurnItDown …To Rise Above It!”
The liner notes of #BurnItDown quote Stevie Wonder’s spiritual words of wisdom: “Never let your fear be bigger than your faith,” Nester truly echoes those sentiments from the get-go. Whether her voice attacks the senses or soothes the soul, Nester routinely cuts to the chase regardless of subject matter. “I Won’t Be” is a gospel fueled anthem of not buckling under to pressure-packed situations: “Cause I will not give in/I will not become a sin.” The title track builds upon intense emotions driven by the dueling guitars of Randy Hill and Will Wu. The pop style ballad, “I Will Believe,” dictates the theory of positive thinking despite the setbacks: “I will hate to go out that way/ just lay down and accept the pain.” The same goes for “Idolatry” -- a soulful declaration of refusing to dwell in the past: “I refuse to embrace all that’s been traced and retraced.” A touching tribute to a dear friend, “Hold On (Ola’s Song),” opens with a caressing guitar leading up to a climatic plea from Nester: “My soul cries out in your pain. If I’ve learned anything in this life, I know that God will provide.” Nester exercises a bit of sassiness on “Oh, Oh, Oh” about trying to blur the pain of breaking up: “I can’t sleep and I can’t eat and I don’t even want to try.” “Walk Away (An Open Letter)” is one of the quieter moments, but with Nester displaying conviction in contemplating saying goodbye to a questionable relationship.
Continuing in the vein of her debut Rattle The Walls, Nester makes all the right moves on #BurnItDown: no-nonsense vocals, old-school musical savvy and best of all -- no electronic enhancements. More importantly, #BurnItDown completely feeds off of Nester’s resilient spirit -- a sincere testament to one who has survived the personal wars in her short lifetime with poise. Highly Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver