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Merrie Amsterburg


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative pop/folk

Status:

Most recent release, We Three Kings / Silent Night EP (seasonal, 2010); most recent regular release, Clementine And Other Stories (2006)

See also:

Merrie Amsterburg's site

Comparisons:

Musically I'd say the closest points of comparison would be Karen Peris (of Innocence Mission) and Wendy MaHarry, with a little bit of mellow Aimee Mann thrown in for good measure. (meth@smoe.org)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Merrie is my pick for the best new artist of 1997. (mcurry@io.com)

I'm surprised there hasn't been more buzz about Merrie—she's quintessential ecto material. (meth@smoe.org)

Merrie is definitely worth checking out if you haven't heard her. (rkb200@is5.nyu.edu)

Comments about live performance:

Merrie Amsterburg and her guitarist, Peter Linton, are excellent live. (jeffw@smoe.org)

For the most part Merrie didn't disappoint. I'd never seen her with her band before (Peter Linton on guitar, Ed Valuszkas (from the Gravel Pit) on bass, and a drummer whose name escapes me), and now I think she, like Richard Shindell, would be better off going it solo. She is quite a good guitarist. The drums and bass really didn't add much to anything (aside from "World Of Our Own Making", which was the highlight of the set), and Peter's guitar was way too loud, so it completely overpowered everything Merrie played. Plus, the funkified bass groove they added to "Say Goodbye" made it into a happy song, which is just completely wrong, in my opinion.
     Still, though, Merrie was in fine voice, and the songs still sounded mostly great. She played her stunning cover of Sting's "Walking On The Moon" as the encore. It's one of those rare covers which is all but unrecognizable until the chorus kicks in—the riff is amazing. (c. 1999)
     Last night Merrie Amsterburg did a CD release show at Fez in NYC. She was first of three performers on the bill, and ended up doing a 40-minute set completely comprised of songs from the new album, Little Steps. She had a full band with her, and the new songs were really great. About the only disappointment was that she didn't have her bouzouki with her this time—just her mandolin and a shiny new guitar. I'm sure the new CD is going to be very, very good. (6/00, (meth@smoe.org)

Actaully, I liked Merrie a lot. I've had her first disc for ages, and couldn't remember it making much of an impression. In fact, I had spent the whole morning confusing it with another disc that I own that hadn't made much of an impression :) Bought her new one too. (9/00, neal)

Recommended first album:

Season of Rain

Recordings:


Season of Rain

Release info:

1996—Q Division Records; 2000—Zoe Records (re-release)

Availability:

Places that carry indie releases

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

The Zoe reissue of Season Of Rain, has three "bonus tracks" on it (all mercifully included on the "World Of Our Own Making" EP, so those of us who have had the original album forever don't have to shell out for an entire new one), all of which are well worth the wait. "Patchwork" is my favorite of the three. (meth@smoe.org)

Season of Rain is excellent. (jeffw@smoe.org)

A great debut album by this talented singer-songwriter, and one that I was surprised not to see on more ecto top 10 lists. (mcurry@io.com)

On first hearing it seemed alright but not spectacular, but after a couple of hearings I found some of the songs popping up in my head at various times, and I couldn't get them out of my head again. Very melodic guitars, catchy songs, good lyrics, and a nice voice (though I had to get used to it a bit). It really grew on me, and I think it's my favourite 'new' album of the year. (Marion)


World Of Our Own Making

Release info:

1999—Q Division Records/Zoe Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans

Comments:

The ep consists of "World Of Our Own Making", "Walking On The Moon" (Sting cover), "Patchwork", "No Tomorrow" (an otherwise unreleased demo), and "Say Goodbye" (recorded live on the Acoustic Cafe radio show)

i listened to merrie amsterburg's world of our own making ep last night, which i had only listened to a couple of times and that was a while ago, but i liked it much, especially the 3rd song. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Little Steps

Release info:

2000-1997—Q Division Records, 443 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, U.S.A.

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

merrie—6- & 12-string electric, acoustic & baritone guitars; mandolin, bouzouki, trumpet, idian banjo, harmonium, piano, organ, miscellaneous keyboards, vocals, washing machine

Guest artists:

paul bryan—bass, synth on different today, congas on design
peter linton—electric guitar, lap steel guitar, background vocals on "my romeo", acoustic guitar on "undertow" and "radio"
john sands—drums and percussion
steve scully—drums on 3 tracks, percussion on 3 tracks
joe mchmahon—upright bass on 2 tracks
mike denneen—chamberlin on 1 track, wurlitzer piano on 1 track

Produced by:

mike denneen

Comments:

Merrie's back (finally)! This is very much along the same lines as Season Of Rain, with similar instrumentation (though her first album didn't have a washing machine on it that I know of ;). Merrie's voice is an instrument in itself. Her enunciation is such that the lyrics don't matter so much because you can't understand them half the time anyway. The result is a very pretty album, though. It doesn't stick with me like her first one did, but it's still growing on me. "Design" and "Undertow" are particular standout tracks. (meth@smoe.org)

I'm listening to it again. I thought a live performance of Merrie's was pretty-near magical a couple of years ago, and I was a little disappointed initially at how smooth this record is by comparision in terms of rich pads of backing vocals and the like, but it really is awfully pretty, and i like her voice a lot. just husky enough to have a lot of texture and a distinctive personality, but still definitely on the soothing rather than the strident side of the fence.
     I think my general impression is that the lyrics are probably on the whole better than the simplistic choruses suggest, but her diction is a little sloppy, so it's hard to tell. (dmw@mwmw.com)

I liked her first, and I like this one. It's quiet and unassuming, so it doesn't find its way into my player as often as it perhaps should. But when I find it, I always enjoy it.... (afries@zip.com.au)


Clementine And Other Stories

Release info:

2006—Q Division Records—QDIV1033

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Merrie Amsterburg—vocals, bouzouki, baritone guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, syntheiszer, cornets, organ, bass organ, trumpet, electric piano, drum loop, storm loops, bell, bass VI

Guest artists:

Peter Linton—guitar, electric guitar, lap steel guitar, hand drum, snare, shaker, bellsbacking vocals
Joe McMahon—upright bass, bowed bass
John Sands—drums, percussion
Paul Bryan—bass, 8-string bass, chamberlin
Jay Bellerose—drums
Gamble Linton—barking

Produced by:

Merrie Amsterburg

Comments:

Merrie Amsterburg's versions of some classic folk songs are inventive and smart. The version of the evergreen "Clementine" takes the song back to its roots and exposes its sorrowful nature fully. She resembles Aimee Mann a lot here. "All the pretty horses" and "Wayfaring Stranger" get nice subdued readings and stand out also. Amsterburg's idea of an intimate, soft folk record is very pleasing to hear. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

We Three Kings / Silent Night

Release info:

2010—Q-dee Records

Availability:

See Merrie Amsterburg's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Merrie Amsterburg—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Peter Linton—guitar, background vocals
Joe McMahon—bass, background vocals
Steve Scully—drums, percussion, background vocals
Phil Aiken—organ, piano
Jen D'Angora—background vocals
Rebecca D'Angora—background vocals
Samantha Goddess—background vocals
The Kings:
     Dennis Brennan—Balthazaar
     Chandler Travis—Caspar
     Ry Cavanaugh—Melchior

Comments:

I love Merrie's fresh takes on two holiday classics. New arrangements, folk-rock energy, great fun! (JoAnn Whetsell)


Thanks to Andrew Fries, Doug Mayowel, stjarnell@yahoo.com and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2011-11-27 16:46:46.
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