Steve Nelson,
Listen What the Katmandu
(Katmandu, 2002)

Say the title out loud and you will get an idea of the witty lyrics contained in this album from Steve Nelson. All of the tracks on Listen What the Katmandu, including a beautiful solo acoustic guitar tune, come from Nelson's pen and most have sort of anarchic wit that bears very close listening. To aid this he has been kind enough to include the lyrics in the insert booklet.

This is one those albums that can lift your spirits after a particularly tough day at the office. Listening to Nelson sing of "Medley the Pooh" and "Jungle Boy," you cannot help but smile and think that there are more things in this world than money, war and ill feeling. The former song is a fantasy about that lovable bear imagining a restaurant where "you say what your wish is and someone brings dishes of your favourite food." Nelson certainly knows his literature -- especially classic tales that became Disney movies. "Jungle Boy" is another one of these retelling that old Kipling tale to musical accompaniment.

But this is not just a CD of reliving children's classics. There are what could become classic love songs here as well. My favourite among these is a track called "Be My Water," and if you consider the essential quality of that substance you realise the compliment in the lyrics. Words like "Carry me forever, move me like a river as we flow together" give you an idea of the sentiment. A lovely light song follows this about, of all things, a "River Rat." Listen to it and you even begin to like the little creatures.

Within the fun songs and the love songs, Nelson also shows his steel edge and his views on a world that needs change. "Faith" is another song that deserves a wider audience in these days of holy war, on whichever side you stand. He sings, "twisting words of every single god, we're gonna have to pay for it." He continues this theme with the beautifully simple song "Say Hate, Say Love." I was reminded very much of the early Simon & Garfunkel sound on this track.

This is one of those CDs that draw you back again and again. You want others to hear it, to discuss it and enjoy it.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 17 January 2004