Raven Speaks was recorded with Duane Niatum’s poems inserted between a collection of
songs addressing global climate change. This project also includes Kristi’s version of
“Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya”, a traditional Irish song. The cover pic is a charcoal drawing by David Gilmour of Tacoma.
1. Angels of the Road
2. Down At The Neighborhood
4. The Crow
5. Raven (poem)
6. In The Islands
7. Raven Dancer (poem)
8. The Last Man Speaks
9. The Dice Changer (poem
10. Raven Speaks
11. Broken Arrow
12. Let Them Knock You Down
13. Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya
14. Joe and the Jarhead
15. They’ve Got Guns
16. The Edge of Town
17. Beer, Beautiful Beer
18. Nothin’ Good is Gonna Happen
I don’t quite know how your CD got to me — I do a contemporary folk show called “Woody’s Children”
on WFUV in New York — but I think some of the songs are really quite extraordinary. I’ve been using
the summer to work way ahead, so I won’t get to them until late in the fall, but I’m planning to have
three tracks (the max allowed under our stupid streaming restrictions) on November 7, with another
the following week. Before I say something I shouldn’t, though, could you tell me whether you and
Steve are a couple off stage as well as on?
Cheers and thanks… Bob Sherman
“I think some of the songs are really quite extraordinary . . . I hate to promise airplay before I’ve actually recorded the programs —
I often bring in too much music and wind up having to cut stuff — but in your your case, the songs will stay for sure.” — Bob Sherman, “Woody’s Children”
Steve and Kristi Nebel
Singers, songwriters, musicians, and peace activists Steve and Kristi Nebel (pronounced “knee-bull”) certainly make beautiful music together. The casual listener might generalize their work as folk, or easy listening, but their music is so much more than that. The couple’s creative artistry shines so brightly on this unique album, and past releases that perhaps “American music for all people” better suits the breadth of their repertoire as their socially conscious songs embrace all of humanity with compassion and warmth.
“Raven Speaks” offers so much variety you will be listening to it for a good long time. It includes 18 tracks altogether, making it a great value in which to invest your music money.
Steve Nebel wrote all but one song on the album, the Irish traditional anti-war and anti-recruiting song, “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye”, perhaps more widely known as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”. “Beer, Beautiful Beer” he co-wrote with Toby Hanson, who plays accordion on this song, and “Down At The Neighborhood”, a happy little song that swings with Latin flavor and poignant lyrics that paint a picture of street life on the block. “Down at the neighborhood/you got your corner deli/sellin’ booze to the winos/ who drink it in the alleyway/. . . you got your little children/You got your African Americans/They got Latinos too/They’ve got Vietnamese kids/You got your native Americans/Down at the neighborhood/They got white kids too!”
Kristi Nebel is a fantastic singer, with a strong voice that is both clear and clean. Steve Nebel has a rich and genteel voice that brings to mind such great minstrels as Burl Ives, and Roger Whittaker. Best of all, the listener can understand every word of the poetic lyrics that they sing, when combined with the music, give the album its’ heft.
The couple takes turns on lead vocals, which offers nice variety. The provide backup vocals for each other as well. Sometimes they sing in harmony, as in the song “All”. Cellist John Simpson plays beautifully on this track, his instrument blending nicely with Kristi Nebel’s bass.
Numerous other musicians contributed to “Raven Speaks”, as well – Mike Friel, and Denali Williams drums; Joe Debenedictis, piano; David Rea, lead guitar; Orville Johnson, dobro, electric guitar; Country Dave Harmonson, pedal steel guitar; Mike Saunders, bodhran; and Mark Graham, Gerry Sperry, and J.W. Sparrow, harmonica.
David Michael plays harp on “The Crow.” Steve Nebel sings of the “Wily raven,” so often misunderstood: “Some say the crow is cruel and dirty/some observe that he is free/. . . sometimes the crow reminds me of me.”
Duane Niatum offers spoken word for the seventh track, his poem titled “Raven,” about the demise of traditional Native American ways of life as progress takes over in the advance of steel and concrete . . . the fire cooled to cold.” Her reads his works “Raven Dance,” and “The Dice Changer” later on the CD.
Based in Tacoma, the Nebels travel the world performing. Reviewed by Matt Nagle – The Tacoma Weekly – November 30th, 2008.
Victory Music March 2010
Kristi Nebel has great folk voice and delivers ‘Angels of the Road’ with power. It’s true that some people thrive on the musical road, some do it out of necessity, and some probably can’t imagine another way of doing things. ‘Down at the Neighborhood’ is a fun, song about the juxtaposition of religious trappings “Washing cars for Jesus..” with the mixture of winos. In this case Jesus, to a gentle calypso beat, loses big in the crap game-maybe not the same Jesus you were thinking of. My favorite is ‘All’ “Whatever it gets, you’ll get through.” The harmonies are wonderful on this, a memorable song. No matter that Steve follows the common practice of confusing crows and ravens (Okay Ravens are in the crow family), the point is these birds are hated at times, taken for granted, but survivors (and also revered in Alaska Native and American Indian culture) who will probably scavenge our very demise. ‘The Last Man Speaks’ allows that revered Raven to speak in an anthem for the potential loss of the environment, “…brought down the sun with the use of your oil.” Between some songs the narrator, Duane Niatum, recites his poems with Raven and lost earth themes. ‘Broken Arrow’ is a slow country beat with Kristi singing what would be recognized in any state or honky tonk of the union as a look back at a relationship best ended one way or another “…may I never see your lyin’ face again..” Good ol’ Country Dave Harmonson on pedal steel. This CD features some wonderful side guys: Orville Johnson, Mike Saunders, David Michael to name a few. Steve’s voice is worn but worthy on ‘Let them Knock you Down’. Steve’s strength is making clear lyrics, especially in ‘Joe and Jarhead’, not only anti-war but about the effects of war on an old soldier. The whole effort is meaningful, well produced, sometimes amusing. Look for this dedicated, local duo somewhere along the road (before the Raven gets you). [J.W. McClure]
I listened to your CDs while cleaning house today. On the Raven Speaks CD my favorite song is All;
I love the lyrics (touching and a little sad), the melody, and everything else about it.
My next favorites are Angels of the Road & Broken Arrow – also great lyrics and melody, and I have always favored
The Crow. I really like the way the Raven Speaks is produced – the instrumentation, the rhythm, and the way that you
sing it (I like your voice when it is a little rough).
I really like the CD, and thought your would like to know.