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Kristi Martel


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative pop, sometimes shading into alternative jazz

Status:

Most recent release, "Here in My House" (single, 2013)

See also:

Kristi Martel's site

CDBaby's site for Sealed Lip Records

Comparisons:

Ani Difranco, Pepper McGowan, Tori Amos

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Martel is a singer-songwriter with a great deal to say, and she says it extremely well. Her greatest challenge will be, if she chooses to go for wide recognition, how to remain a class act as she becomes a mass act. More than one independent artist has run aground while trying to navigate those particular straits. (mapravat@prairienet.org

Recommended first album:

Brave Enough or The Mule

Recordings:

  • 4-track and live recordings (1996)
  • With Mouth and Hands (1998)
  • give me a little... ep (2000)
  • Brave Enough (2001)
  • The Mule (2004)
  • Quaint and Curious Ravendemos (2005)
  • Ravengirl (2006)
  • The Sacred Whore Demos (by donation only, 2009)
  • Seeds (single, 2010)
  • Blessed Community (single, 2011)
  • Firewater (single, 2011)
  • Here in My House (single, 2013)

give me a little... ep

Release info:

2000—Sealed Lip Records

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kristi Martel—voices, keys

Guest artists:

Robin Minnerly-lead guitar
Ed Quamen—drums

Produced by:

Kristi Martel and Woody Simmons

Comments:

A lively, jazzy, funky 4-track ep with a slightly Ani Difranco-ish feel. The songs are distinctive, hooky and nicely put-together and sung emotionally. Pretty damn irresistible, I say. (Neile)

Brave Enough

Release info:

2001—Sealed Lip Records

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kristi Martel—voices, piano

Guest artists:

Rich Kulsar—drums
Jason Wallenstein—bass
Littlebird—fretless bass on 1 track, guitar on 1 track, background vocals on 2 tracks
Denise Barbarita—guitar on 1 track, bowed guitar on 1 track
Frank Carter—background vocals on 1 track

Produced by:

Denise Barbarita

Comments:

Piano is Martel's modal accompanying instrument, but not universal among the tracks on this album. Both piano and non-piano tracks seem highly reminiscent of Ani Difranco's music; many of the piano numbers also evoke Pepper McGowan, and to a lesser extent Tori Amos, to me. Certain tracks also evoked, variously, works by Joan Armatrading, Anne Heaton, and Holly Near. While her music is certainly of high quality, the lyrics are where she achieves real distinction. (Her website features her poetry and other writings, in addition to lyrics. Inexplicably, the cardboard folder the CD is packaged in has lyrics for three of the nine songs on the album; for the rest one must go to the website—a major inconvenience if there isn't a computer handy.) She is plainspoken about relationships that didn't work for her, whether with various ex-lovers, or with her mother. Her readiness to use explicit language when the situation warrants it is reminiscent of Liz Phair or, to a lesser degree, Melinda Gidaly. Yet she is by no means fixated on this type of subject matter, branching out to take on topics such as an elderly neighbor who died recently, and the body images of children and their mothers. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

The Mule

Release info:

2004—Sealed Lip Records, POB 817, Woonsocket RI 02895, USA—SLR6

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kristi Martel—voices, keys

Guest artists:

Denise Barbarita—backing vocals on 1 track, guitar on 1 track
Rich Kulsar—drums, sequences
Jason Wallenstein—bass
Leah Coloff—cello on 1 track
Sarah Woolf—lead guitar on 1 track, harmonica on 1 track

Produced by:

Denise Barbarita and Kristi Martel

Comments:

It's so wonderful to hear powerfully emotive piano-based music that comes from a storytelling territory though is personal, too. Kristi Martel has a strong voice, musical style and presence on this album. She seems a force to be reckoned with and someone to be listened to; I certainly enjoy listening to her varied, intelligent, and expressive music here. (Neile)


Thanks to Mitch Pravatiner for work on this entry.

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