About

The Nields­­

XVII

XVII, the Nields’ seventeenth album, is both their most personal and their most community-minded. Well into their third decade as a musical partners and—judging by this sublime album––at the very top of their game, the Nields turn to meditations on time, and turning points, their roots and community – both musical and personal – but they also express joy in the present, faith in the future, and a whole lot of hope and promise. The Nields’ albums are often an eclectic mix of ideas and music styles, but clear themes emerge. Love and China (2002) was about the fragility of love and relationships. The Full Catastrophe (2012) explored the messy experience of raising a family. XVII has the Nields looking out from midlife, focusing on themes of time, love and community.The primary inspiration behind XVII was Nerissa and Katryna’s hero, Pete Seeger, who died in January of 2014. His love of sharing music and his passion for justice had been a part of their lives since before they were born (their parents fell in love at a Pete Seeger concert). His death affected them profoundly. Pete is clearly on the album in songs like “Joe Hill” and “Wasn’t That a Time,” but the entire album is infused with his spirit. It’s there in the Nields’ delight in sharing music and in using it to build a community. And it’s there in the title XVII: when compared to a career and life like that of Pete Seeger, they’re not even out of their teens.

The songs on XVII are about the lessons we hope to learn by midlife: accepting the passage of time and the choices we’ve made, and being thankful for the moments of grace. They are about knowing where we’re supposed to be, and recognizing that there are many things we may never understand. They’re about having faith in something bigger, be it God, humanity, love, or all of the above.

Although many of the songs on XVII have the Nields looking back at their lives and their career, it’s also an album about enjoying the moment: “What a world we get to live in when there are wonders such as this” (“Normandies”), looking ahead to what’s next: “I know the only way is forward; I don’t mind what might have been” (“Treasure”), and embracing in the people around you: “Someone needs to ask for help tonight, and someone wants to lend a hand. We’re all of us, on the bus, sharing our way to trust, we all just walk each other home” (“Dave Hayes”).

Written by Nerissa, but with significant contributions from Katryna, the songs show a confident songwriter trusting her voice, willing to take leaps, and able to write songs that are deeply personal. “Nerissa wrote my favorite songs she’s ever written and they were more fun to sing than anything I’ve ever gotten to sing.” The songs give Katryna room to stretch her voice, from intimate whispers to full throated soaring. The sisters’ vocal interplay and intricate harmonies—the duo’s hallmark—are as thrilling as ever.

“I feel like when Pete died,” Katryna recalls “all musicians thought ‘How do I carry on this tradition that he gave us and how do we nurture that.’ The greatest thing you get to do as a musician is create a community; that’s the gift that Pete Seeger gave us more than anything else. It’s our job to just keep singing and to keep encouraging others to keep singing, too.”

Praise for the Nields

On first listen, some might glibly categorize this acoustic folk trio-turned-modern rock quintet as Alanis Fronts the Indigo Girls. But listen to [the Nields] twice and you’ll start to catch the twists in the tales, the quirks and ironies that make every song a short story. And then you’ll be hooked.
-SPIN Magazine

Imagine if Natalie Merchant had a sister with an equally good voice singing perfect harmony with her…intimate and electric.
-Sing Out! Magazine

If you don’t like the Nields, you need to get your ears checked.
-ESP, Winston-Salem

A masterful mix of modern folk with an alternative edge.
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

[The Nields] sounds like the Roches meets the Cranberries, but with better songwriting and better vocal harmonies.
-Cincinnati Enquirer

If there’s one constant here, it’s The Nields sisters’ beautifully sweet vocal harmonies that sound eerily like the Roches singing Lush in a really big room. It’s infectious stuff.
-Austin Chronicle

The marvelously expressive Katryna and Nerissa Nields provide vocals sounding at various times very much like the Bangles, the Roches and …Alanis Morrissette…a delightful discovery.
-Chicago Tribune

…a gentle explosion of high-strung harmonies and spare arrangements of songs that snap like cinnamon sticks. They ride their dynamics from literally whispered passages over tick-tocking sidestick or no drums at all, up to electric squalls that push Katryna and sister Nerissa Nields’ vocals without overwhelming them.
-Musician Magazine

As the work of the Everly Brothers or the McGarrigle Sisters has amply demonstrated, there are few sounds as sublime as close harmonies rendered by siblings. In the case of western Massachusetts folk rockers the Nields, the siblings are sisters Nerissa and Katryna Nields, and their inimitable vocal blend is a disarming mix of clean folk harmonies and clenched Generation-X angst.
-The Chicago Tribune

Guitarist Nerissa has written the clear-eyed, literary lyrics and sister Katryna has provided a gloriously eccentric vocal delivery …Lots of backward glances and relationship foibles punctuate this quiet collection, which is ideal for harmony addicts and dreamers alike.
-Billboard Magazine

Jesus Was a Refugee video

Nerissa’s June 2nd WHMP interview