10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Natalie returns
This is the first album of original material from Natalie Merchant in some time. Her last album was a glorious collection of children's themed songs 'Leave Your Sleep' with lyrical contributions from various poets that album displayed more humour than I had found on other albums by Natalie and also was perhaps slightly more musically diverse. This album is a less playful...
Published 13 months ago by rob w
0 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Published 12 months ago by harvey duplicate
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Natalie returns,
This is the first album of original material from Natalie Merchant in some time. Her last album was a glorious collection of children's themed songs 'Leave Your Sleep' with lyrical contributions from various poets that album displayed more humour than I had found on other albums by Natalie and also was perhaps slightly more musically diverse. This album is a less playful affair but musically it retains the previous albums diversity with forays into styles such as soul, I particularly enjoyed 'Lulu' and 'The Seven Deadly Sins'. This is an album that is beautifully played and sung if a little earnest and if you are just exploring the work of Natalie Merchant I would suggest you start with the above mentioned 'Leave Your Sleep' or the album by her former band the 10,000 Maniacs 'In My Tribe' and if you like those then this album and another solo album 'Tigerlilly' should be your next step.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding album,
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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent return to original compositions from the '80's alt-rock goddess.......,
This is a welcome return to original composition from Natalie Merchant whose last album 2010's "Leave Your Sleep" comprised of children's poems set to music was an admirably ambitious experiment which ultimately failed collapsing under the weight of its own ambition. Perhaps Merchant's realisation of this prompted her to re-start composing original material? Whatever the reason the outcome is extraordinary with Merchant's velvety, rich contralto voice never sounding better and is brilliant suited to these (mostly) slow paced, lush [strings are prominent with lashings of cello] songs of heartbreak and experience.
Pop this is not and in some ways some of the themes and moods mirror those of Goldrapp's recent "Tales Of Us" (though Merchant's work exhibits a gravity that Goldfrapp can only dream of and I speak as a great admirer "Tales Of Us"). Stand outs are difficult to pick since it is all excellent, but I do particularly like the (slightly) sparer tracks such as "Seven Deadly Sins" and "Texas" and the climatic closer "The End" where Merchant laments over a luscious orchestral accompaniment [bringing to mind the best tracks on "Leave Your Sleep"]. Also worth mentioning is Merchant belting it out like the good old 10,000 Maniacs days on the gospel-tinged "Go Down Moses" though I could have done without the slightly superfluous backing singer which kind of overeggs the pudding somewhat - still great to hear Merchant cutting loose again even if its only one track.
All said and done a gem and a very welcome return to form from an exceptional singer and artist.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can There Be A Perfect Album?,
Probably not.....but I am struggling to find a flaw here. This is just beautiful, and so moving (without all the over emoting of many mainstream artists). It also improves on every hearing, pulling you into the listening experience. Excellent production and arrangements to (some great string accompaniments)....For sure it's mood is overall melancholy, but it doesn't attempt to drag you into the pits. It's a cliché perhaps, but everything seems so right, one might say perfect ? I do have all her other solo albums so admit am a fan, but I think this one is her best yet, and probably it feels like the one she was destined to make. My album of the year so far, (and I have around 50 other purchases across all genres I am comparing with).
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, what a triumphant return,
Awesome, what a triumphant return. Hadn't listened much to Nathalie Merchant apart from the occasional spin of Unplugged (10,000 Maniacs) and In My Tribe. One day when a friend got pregnant I remembered Eat for Two – when looking for old 10,000 Maniacs albums in second hand stores, I came across Leave Your Sleep, great that too. Googling NM I learned that this album is out. From the first listen to the 15th this is the best she ever did. "Add a photo" it says, wish I had a photo of Nathalie Merchant and myself, when I interviewed her at the Roskilde Festival 1988. Ha, the photo is in my memories, who knows if it's in her's :-) This album brings us full circle.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, very strong Album,
My favourite album in the past few years. I saw Natalie performing the song "Texas" on Jools Holland (in May 2014), and was completely mesmerized. The depth of her voice and song writing is something I have never experienced before. The choice of the musicians round up the moving experience ... while my CD has not left the stereo since May, I purchased so far 4 more CDs as gifts to friends, since I felt the music needed, needed to be shared.
5.0 out of 5 stars It's The Voice Stoopid!,
How is she possible? Intelligent lyrics and wonderful tunes, she's been around for years and has never dimmed.
I've seen her in concert many times and she always pleases (like Patti Smith) - I read a review of a recent concert
and the reviewer said she had many attributes but he always came back to the same thing - she has a fabulous and unique voice!
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful,
Lyrical, melodic, intelligent, beautifully produced; all things that NM excels in and this doesn't disappoint. In a world of shallow values, where the cult of instant celebrity,vacuousness and bombast is mistaken for greatness, NM offers a more considered and culturally rooted view of life. This is a wonderful CD that will stand the test of time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great listening,
We heard Natalie singing "Texas" live on 'Later with Jules Holland' and pre-ordered the CD there and then. It certainly did not disappoint. The rest of the songs are to the same high standard. A great voice and well written songs.
This remains one of the most played CD's in our house and we have also bought it for friends and family.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best work from this artist.,
Absolutely her finest IMHO. From start to finish, I don't really look at or register the track names - one of those albums you get to play start to finish every time.
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