Kristi Martel - Ravengirl
by Don DiMuccio
for Motif Magazine, October 2006
In The Groove: Ravenfest lands at Hi Hat Sunday, Oct 22
Variety makes the world go 'round, or so they say. Though we all tend to comfortably nuzzle within our safety zones, from time to time one needs to venture into the unknown, if for no other reason than to see how the other half lives.
So is the case for me with Kristi Martel's latest release Ravengirl.
I tread gently on the groundwork she lays down within the 15 tracks to experience life through her words, high atop the vantage point Martel creates through her minimalist approach to recording. Clearly from the start, you get the feeling that Kristi is a reflective thinker, examining her life endurances and reworking them into art, which is always the goal of the songwriter.
In a voice reminiscent of Natalie Merchant, with some shades of Kate Bush thrown in, Martel talks of past love, watching sunsets on far away islands, and coping with the death of a loved one.
Lofty topics one and all. This is earthy-crunchy-artsy new age music, with an emphasis on selfimportance that can leave the listener on the outside looking in.
Kristi has a rare voice with exceptional range that she tinkers and toys with throughout Ravengirl, as she does during live performances. In the CD's included booklet, each track has a preamble which serves as backstory to the song. Much of who Kristi is, is reflected in her music.
Much of grasping her songs does require having an insideršs knowledge.
Of course, Kristi cross-links her art with written and spoken word to inform and enlighten, often a necessity to fully understand Raven-art. Many say it is not the artist's job to offer explanation to their songwriting efforts, but rather to paint musical pictures for the listener to fill in the blanks.
Certainly, this maxim holds true when the aim is commercial success, rather than personal or artistic success. Kristi is clearly a gifted pianist with a sweet voice that does justice to illustrating her words.
It's all "precious," to recoin a word Martel herself uses in one of her prologues. Lyrics like "Your body was a gift given by the Greatest Spirit," and "I thought I was high, I could fly I thought I could change the world, but no one can do that." Martel has created a cathartic autobiography that will stand as her testament, although idiosyncratic and existing to large degree in her inner thoughts, experiences and emotions. Kristi Martel is an extremely talented artist, who has already proven herself in the fields of not only recording, but also performance art. If mainstream popularity is the goal, which it likely is not for Martel, tightening her thoughts along with regular melody and song form would cater to a wider audience. Ravenfest, Kristi's CD release party is set for Sunday, Oct. 22, at the The Hi Hat, Davol Square in Providence.
Doors open at 5pm, Music happens from 6pm to 11pm Artists include: The Kristi Martel Band opening acts include Mary Ann Rossoni, Spogga, Kevin Silvia, Kellianna, Tony Lee Thomas, and Jennifer Minuto.
Call 401-453-6500 Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the door.