Top positive review
25 people found this helpful
An outstanding album
on 7 May 2014
This is a fantastic album, I think. I was bowled over by it when I first heard it and it has just got better on repeated hearing.
Although I've been aware of Natalie Merchant in a vague sort of way for a long time, this is the first album of hers that I have heard properly. It won't be the last: it features extraordinary songwriting, excellent singing and very good arrangements and production. You can get a sense of the album's tone from the artwork, featuring Merchant in a bleak, dirty concrete cell in varying degrees of thoughtfulness or despair. The music and lyrics aren't unremittingly miserable, but it's not one to get you in the mood for a fun night out, that's for sure. However, it has it redemptive moments and the music and performances are so compelling that it never becomes depressing.
I find it hard to give a real flavour of this album. Natalie Merchant is very much her own woman, but I get echoes of greats like Tracy Chapman, Patty Griffin and others. The music is varied, tuneful, often mournful and always very musically rewarding. Her lyrics are remarkable - allusive and suggestive rather than direct much of the time, and extraordinarily evocative of the daily struggle and the human condition as a result. This is fine, intelligent songwriting by someone who has honed her craft over many, many years and found her true individual voice.
I would suggest listening to some samples here (available on the mp3 page). If you like the sound of them, don't hesitate. This is a very fine piece of work with genuine depth and which is a pleasure to listen to. This will certainly be one of my stand-out albums of this year and it will last for a very long time, I think. Very, very warmly recommended.