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Natalie Merchant


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, Natalie Merchant (2014)

See also:

The Official Natalie Merchant site

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for 10,000 Maniacs

Comparisons:

10,000 Maniacs, Innocence Mission (voice similar to Karen Peris's)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Natalie is another artist that has proved to me through every album she's released, that she is incapable of generating anything other than excellence. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Natalie Merchant is a significant lyricist. (woj@smoe.org)

For me it's Natalie's voice that comes close to being my favourite thing! Accordingly, while I love everything Natalie is doing, for me 10,000 Maniacs lost a bit of lustre after her departure. (afries@zip.com.au)

Comments about live performance:

Natalie Merchant's set at the Lilith Fair was a little erratic, but contained some of the most stirring moments of the evening. I can always count on her to pull something out that will move me to tears. I don't know her solo stuff, and she didn't play any 10,000 Maniacs tunes, but had a lot of great moments. I thought the complicated and meandering arrangements didn't work that well in a festival environment, but it was great to watch her working the crowd. (neal)

personally, i thought the show was all right. natalie merchant has never been a favorite of mine, before or after the split with the maniacs. i was surprised by how much i enjoyed the show we saw when she was supporting tigerlily—that one was very up-tempo (there were so many people dancing in the balcony that i thought it was going to collapse), but the low-key mood of this one wasn't too bad either. it didn't change my opinion of her in any way, but i didn't run screaming from the theater either. ;) (12/98, woj@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Either one

Recordings:


Tigerlily

Release info:

1995—Elektra

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

Essential—at least in the opinion of this highly biased editor :) (afries@zip.com.au)

Group members:

Natalie—vocals, piano, organ, vibraphone
Jennifer Turner—guitars
Peter Yanowitz—drums
Barrie McGuire—bass

Guest artists:

Katell Keineg and a number of others

Produced by:

John Holbrook

Comments:

It's the album 10,000 Maniacs would have made had Natalie stayed with the band. Nothing ground-breaking musically or lyrically, mellow pretty much throughout, Natalie's in fine voice (though she's being way too articulate for my tastes these days—I could actually understand what the songs were about without looking at the liner notes...sigh, how the mighty have fallen :). Lots of reminiscences to songs like "I'm Not The Man", "How You've Grown", "Circle Dream" etc. from Our Time In Eden. I love it, but I would run out and buy a tape of Natalie reading the Jamestown Classified Ads and love it too. :> If you weren't a fan of Natalie Merchant before, this album probably won't convert you. If you liked where 10,000 Maniacs were going with Our Time In Eden, then chances are Tigerlily will be a worthwhile purchase. Tigerlily doesn't win awards for originality or innovation, but in its own quiet way it's an excellent album. Musically most of the songs are very mellow—the only ones approaching upbeat are "San Andreas Fault" and "Carnival". Lyrically there are no outward social commentaries, but quite a few stories and a fair bit of introspectiveness: Natalie ponders her lot in life and wonders if it's all really been worth it.(meth@smoe.org)

Despite mediocre reviews, on first listen this album sounds quite engaging and quite classically Natalie. Although the drum track on the first song has got to be one of the most cliched in music today.... (damon)

Generally quiet and uncompelling but well-performed. I love Natalie's work, but found myself getting bored with the CD by about halfway through. The songs all seem good, but I wish she's mixed up the tempo a bit more. Natalie is still great though, and I really like a track called "Where I Go", along with "Carnival" of course, as well as the first two tracks. (carnivore@bigfoot.com)

Perhaps it wasn't her best effort, nor a pure work of art (as many other debut solo albums have been), but still very enjoyable. (bill@wagill.com)

The top album, for me, of '95 has to be Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily, which is simply stunning. I love it to bits and can't stop listening to it! (garrick@area51.upsu.plym.ac.uk)


Ophelia

Release info:

1998—Elektra

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

Essential—at least in the opinion of this highly biased editor :) (afries@zip.com.au)

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals, Wurlitzer, Hammond, piano

Guest artists:

Graham Maby—electric guitar, bass
Peter Yanowitz—drums
George Laks—organ, piano, Hammond, Wurlitzer, Rhodes
Michelle Kinney—cello (1, 5, 8)
Todd Vos—electric guitar
Ken Appollo—barrel organ
Susanna Schmit—German voice of Ophelia (1)
Rocio Paez—Spanish voice of Ophelia (1)
Carmen Consoli—Italian voice of Ophelia (1)
Camille Labro—French voice of Ophelia (1)
Bella Urina—Russian voice of Ophelia (1)
Craig Ross—acoustic and electric guitar
Tom Varner—French horn (2)
Karl Berger—string arranger, conductor (2, 7)
Krystof Witek—violin (2, 6, 7)
Hector Falcon—violin (2, 6, 7)
Conroy Kuo—viola (2, 6, 7)
Ralph Farris—viola (2, 6, 7)
Garo Yellin—cello (2, 6, 7)
Lokua Kanza—acoustic guitar
Joakim Lartey—percussion
Karen Peris (Innocence Mission)—vocals (4, 11); acoustic guitar (11)
Don Peris (Innocence Mission)—electric guitar (4, 11)
Jay Brunga-acoustic bass
N'dea Davenport—vocals (6)
Chris Botti—trumpet (6)
Donnie Ward—electric guitar (6)
Daniel Lanois—electric guitar (8)
Yungchen Lhamo—vocals and Tibetan translation (9)
Gavin Bryars—string arranger, conductor (12)
Wendy Gillespie (Fretwork)—treble viol (12)
Julia Hodgson (Fretwork)—tenor viol (12)
Richard Campbell (Fretwork)-tenor viol (12)
Susanna Pell( Fretwork)—bass viol (12)
William Hunt (Fretwork)—great bass (12)
Pamela Thorby—Renaissance tenor recorder (12)
Christopher Wilson—theorbo (12)

Produced by:

Natalie Merchant

Comments:

I've listened to it 5 times and I have to say that it's grown on me a lot. My initial impression was that the album really never gets going, but now I don't think it really needs to. The one-word capsule description I could give would be "languid". The album is very much like Tigerlily in that respect, but musically it is much different. There is a very heavy emphasis placed on strings and orchestration, and the result is very nice. I especially like the "reprise" of "Ophelia", which rounds out the album as a quasi-hidden track and is basically a string quintet instrumental of the first and title song. Natalie Merchant's voice and singing style are the same as ever. However, I really can't imagine her having any chart-topping hits with any of the songs on this disc (which of course isn't necessarily a bad thing). Jennifer Turner doesn't appear on this album, which is a bummer, but there are some notable guest appearances...I hate the packaging, though. I can deal with the environmentally-friendly cardboard digipak, but the photos on the cover and all the way through it are just stupid. And there's no lyrics, which I always find annoying.I don't know exactly why, but I just *like* what Natalie Merchant does, usually no matter what she's doing. As with Tigerlily, I don't think she's going to win any new fans with Ophelia, but if any other old-timers are like me, they're going to be quite pleased with this one as well on general principle. (meth@smoe.org)

Picked up Natalie Merchant's Ophelia, which sounds pretty good, kinda reminds me of Blind Man's Zoo I think...I must say I don't care for the packaging, I'd much rather have a jewel case than one of these cardboard sleeves...but then I've got a bunch of jewel cases I bought at the computer store. I'll stick it in one of those...so much for attempts to be ecologically sound. (sspan)

why does Natalie remind me of Sarah McLachlan on some of the songs here? (Riphug@aol.com)

Well, I've always been on the outer edge of Natalie Merchant fandom, but I think the photos in the Ophelia packaging are hilarious. I always thought Natalie was too serious for her own good, so I'm glad to see that she can lighten up. Also, I think those photos are supposed to be all the personas in the song "Ophelia".
     I've never been overwhelmed by Natalie before, but the strings have hooked me on this album. I like it quite a bit. And I agree that the "Ophelia Reprise" is wonderful. Makes me wonder what Natalie could do with an instrumental album. (mageeol@ro.com)

Anything she does will be my favourite as long as it has her voice on it :). (afries@zip.com.au)


Live

Release info:

1999—Elektra—62444-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Natalie Merchant fans

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals and piano

Guest artists:

Erik Della Penna—guitar
Gabriel Gordon—guitar and backing vocals
Peter Yanowitz—drums
Graham Maby—bass
Elizabeth Steen—keyboards
Doug Stringer—percussion
Susan McKeown—guest vocals

Comments:

There is also a DVD version of this disc with a different track listing (Elektra 40214-2).

This live CD doesn't really add any new insights, but hey, it's more Natalie—for an addict like myself that's enough to celebrate. (afries@zip.com.au)

Some good old tunes ("Dust Bowl Days", "Gun Shy") and Katell Keineg's "Gulf of Araby" with Susan McKeown make this a keeper. (NNadelS@aol.com)


Motherland

Release info:

2001—Elektra—62721-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals, piano, Rhodes piano

Guest artists:

Elizabeth Steen—Hammond organ, mellotron, Wurlitzer piano, piano
Gabriel Gordon—electric guitar, E-bow electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocal
Erik Della Penna—oud, banjo, electric guitar, classical guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar, bazouki
Graham Maby—bass
Matt Chamberlain—drums, percussion
Van Dyke Parks—accordion
Patrick Warren—pump organ, chamberlain
Mike Elizando—acoustic bass
Greg Leisz—acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, 12-string guitar
David Ralicke—tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trombone
Keefus—piano, Hammond organ, keyboard
Bob Glaub—bass
Carla Azar—drums (live)
Sandra Park—violin, string contractor on "Henry Darger"
Sharon Yamada, Lisa E. Kim, Bruno Eicher, Karen Marx, Ann S. Kim, Laura Seaton, Fiona Simon, Jung Sun Yoo, Soo Hyun Kwon, Krystof Kuznik, Robert T. Shaw—violin
Karen Dreyfus, Nick Cords, Vivek Kamath—viola
Alan Stepansky, Sarah Seiver, Elizabeth Dyson—cello
Sandra Church—alto flute
Guy Klucevsek—accordion
David Krakauer—clarinet
Chris Tedesco—trumpet
Jeremy McCoy—bass
Mitchell Estrin—bass clarinet
Tony Kadleck—trumpet
Philip Myers—French horn
Mavis Staples—vocal
Katie Goldberg—vocal
Kate Daley, Kelly Daley—Vivian Girl's voice
Stephen Barber—arrangements and conducting
Daniel de la Calle—Spanish lyrics to "The Worst Thing"

Produced by:

Natalie Merchant and T Bone Burnett

Comments:

Natalie Merchant's new cd Motherland is excellent. It starts out with 3 very strong tracks (the Middle-Eastern/reggae influenced "This House Is On Fire"; the country waltz "Motherland". "Saint Judas" has a kind of southern soul feel. I love the use of the mandolin and banjo on the second and third tracks, especially the banjo solo at the end of the third. Natalie's voice works in many different styles, but even she can't pull off a torch song. At least she doesn't on the 4th track, "Put the Law On You," not for me. The album bounces right back though with "Build a Levee." The last 4 tracks are great up-tempo pop ballads. I only wish they were interspersed more with the slower-paced songs in the middle (tracks 6-8).
     Does this not sound very enthusiastic? I think it's a great album; I might have ordered it differently. I've had it about a week now and have played part or all of it every day. The first three tracks and the last four are particularly strong, but there's really only one bad track. If you liked Ophelia you'll like this too. (JoAnn Whetsell)

The House Carpenter's Daughter

Release info:

2003—Myth America Records, PO Box 170, Bellows Falls, VT 05101—MA-1026

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals

Guest artists:

Erik Della Penna—guitar & lap steel
Graham Maby—bass
Gabriel Gordon—guitar
Richie Stearns—banjo
Judy Hyman—fiddle
Elizabeth Steen—organ, piano, accordion
Allison Miller—drums
The Menfolk—backing vocals

Produced by:

Natalie Merchant

Comments:

This is Merchant's homage to folk and traditional music, and as such, it threatens to suffer under an anthropological earnestness. However, the sounds are lovely and autumnal: violins, tentatively plucked banjos in a way that wouldn't sound out of place in PBS or NPR special. The striking thing is Merchant's voice. It no longer has the lithe, little-girl lilt of the past. She sounds older, her voice crackles. There's a matronly gravitas, and an understated passion, that runs through her readings of these songs. Highlights include the Fairport Convention tune "Crazy Man Michael" and the murder ballad, "Diver Boy." (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

I saw her perform most (if not all) of these songs live during her folk music tour in 2001. It was an amazing show, and I'm glad she decided to finally release some official versions. (cyclic_despair@hotmail.com)

Nice take on some old folk songs. Can't go wrong with a voice like Natalie's. (edcole@halcyon.com)

A lovely collection of traditional folk tunes. (tanisha-taitt@yahoo.com)

A stunning combination of old-timey and contemporary folk, perfectly suited to Natalie's voice (or maybe it's the other way around), wonderful instrumentation. I particularly love the darker songs like "Diver Boy." (JoAnn Whetsell)


Retrospective 1995–2005

Release info:

2005—Elektra—R2 73121

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals, piano

Guest artists:

Barrie McGuire—bass (1, 2)
Jennifer Turner (Inner)—guitar (1, 2, 3); backing vocals (1)
Peter Yanowitz—drums (1-8)
Michelle Kinney—cello (1)
Katell Keineg—vocals (2)
Adrián López Guevarra—percussion (2, 3)
Firma Ephron—bass (3)
Jason Yates—Hammond (3)
Matt Henderson—guitar, bass (4)
John Holbrook—electric guitar (4)
Randy Grant—percussion (4)
Graham Maby—bass (5-8, 10)
Lokua Kanza—acoustic guitar (5, 6)
Craig Ross—electric guitar (5, 6, 7); acoustic guitar (7)
George Laks—Hammond (5, 8); Wurlitzer (5); piano (7)
Joakim Lartey—percussion (5)
N'dea Davenport—vocals (6)
Chris Botti—trumpet (6)
Donnie Ward—electric guitar (6)
Krystof Witek—violin (6, 7)
Hector Falcon—violin (6, 7)
Conroy Kuo—viola (6, 7)
Ralph Farris—viola (6, 7)
Garo Yellin—cello (6, 7)
Karl Berger—string arranger, conductor (6, 7)
Tom Varner—French horn (7)
Mavis Staples—vocals (9)
Elizabeth Steen—Hammond (9, 10); organ, piano (12, 13)
Greg Leisz—electric guitar (9); acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin (11)
Bob Glaub—bass (9)
Matt Chamberlain—drums (9, 10); percussion (10)
Patrick Warren—chamberlin (9, 10); pump organ (11)
Keefus—Hammond (9)
David Ralicke—baritone, tenor saxophone (9)
Erik Della Penna—electric guitar (10); guitar, lap steel (12, 13)
Gabriel Gordon—acoustic guitar (10, 12); electric guitar (10); guitar (13)
Van Dyke Parks—accordion (11)
Mike Elizando—acoustic bass (11)
Richie Stearns—banjo (12, 13)
Judy Hyman—fiddle (12, 13)
Allison Miller—drums (12, 13)

Produced by:

Natalie Merchant; T-Bone Burnett co-produced tracks 9-11

Comments:

A collection of her solo work. I had lost interest in her after she left 10,000 Maniacs, and this shows me the great stuff I have been missing. (tpierceint@yahoo.com)

The single cd Retrospective 1995-2005 does not offer anything new for fans (except for those who care that the tracks are remastered) as all 13 tracks are pulled from Natalie's 4 studio albums and presented in chronological order. However, it's a nice overview for people less familiar with her solo career.
      Retrospective 1995-2005 is also the first disc of the 2-disc set Retrospective 1990-2005, which presents 15 tracks including previously unreleased songs, re-recorded songs, and songs previously released on other albums. These tracks are of uneven quality. I could have done without the 3 jazz numbers ("One Fine Day," "But Not For Me," and "I Know How to Do It) but the new recordings of "Thick As Thieves" (from Ophelia) and "Tell Yourself" (from Motherland) are excellent. As are the various duets—"Photograph" with Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.), "Party of God" and "Bread and Circuses" with Billy Bragg, and "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" with Susan Mckeown from her Prophecy album. Overall, it's a worthy investment for fans. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Leave Your Sleep

Release info:

2010—Nonesuch Records—522304-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals, string arrangement (disc 1, track 1), orchestration (disc 1, track 2; disc 2, track 6, 12), arrangement (disc 1, tracks 6, 11; disc 2, tracks 7, 11)

Guest artists:

Sean O'Loughlin—string arrangement (disc 1, track 1), orchestration (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Lúnasa:
     Trevor Hutchinson—upright bass (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 2, 8, 10)
     Kevin Crawford—low whistle (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, track 10), tin whistle, bodran, vocals (disc 2, track 2); flute (disc 2, track 8)
     Paul Meehan—acoustic guitar (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 2, 8, 10)
     Cillian Vallely—uilleann pipes (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, track 2); low whistle (disc 2, tracks 8, 10)
     Sean Smyth—fiddle (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 2, 8)
Sandra Park—violin (disc 1, tracks 1, 2, 6, 9; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Sharon Yamada—violin (disc 1, tracks 1, 2, 6, 9; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Lisa Kim—violin (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Ann Lehmann—violin (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Arnaud Sussmann—violin (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Minyoung Baik—violin (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Shan Jiang—violin (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Matt Lehmann—violin (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Robert Rinehart—viola (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Karen Dreyfus—viola (disc 1, tracks 1, 2, 6, 9; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Eileen Moon—cello (disc 1, tracks 1, 2, 6, 9; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Jeanne LeBlanc—cello (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Jeremy McCoy—bass (disc 1, track 1; disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Stephen Barber—orchestration (disc 1, track 2), arrangement (disc 1, track 6), string arrangement (disc 1, track 9; disc 2, track 13)
Meridian Arts Ensemble:
     Jon Nelson—trumpet (disc 1, track 2)
     Daniel Grabois—horn (disc 1, track 2)
     Benjamin Herrington—trombone (disc 1, track 2)
     Brian McWhorter—trumpet (disc 1, track 2)
     Raymond Stewart—tuba (disc 1, track 2)
Artis Wodehouse—pump organ (disc 1, track 2)
Greg Cohen—bass (disc 1, track 2)
Gabriel Gordon—guitar (disc 1, tracks 3, 10; disc 2, tracks 1, 9)
Judy Hyman—fiddle (disc 1, track 3; disc 2, tracks 1, 9)
Richard Stearns—banjo (disc 1, tracks 3, 10; disc 2, tracks 1, 9)
Mark Murphy—upright bass (disc 1, tracks 3, 10; disc 2, tracks 1, 9)
Bill Spence—hammer dulcimer (disc 1, tracks 3, 10; disc 2, track 9)
Wynton Marsalis—arrangement, trumpet (disc 1, track 4; disc 2, track 4)
Daniel Nimmer—piano (disc 1, track 4; disc 2, track 4)
Ali Jackson—drums (disc 1, track 4; disc 2, track 4)
Walter Blanding—saxophone (disc 1, track 4; disc 2, track 4)
Carlos Henriquez—bass (disc 1, track 4; disc 2, track 4)
Doug Wamble—guitar (disc 1, track 4; disc 2, track 4), banjo (disc 2, track 4)
The Fairfield Four—vocals (disc 1, tracks 4, 12, 13)
     Isaac Freeman
     Edward Hall
     Robert Hamlett
     Joe Rice
     Joseph Thompson
Medeski Martin & Wood:
     John Medeski—piano (disc 1, track 5)
     Billy Martin—drums (disc 1, track 5)
     Chris Wood—bass (disc 1, track 5)
Michael Leonhart—horn arrangement, trumpet (disc 1, track 5)
Dan Levine—bass trombone, tuba, alto horn (disc 1, track 5)
Dieter Hennings—acoustic guitar (disc 1, track 5), baroque guitar, theorbo (disc 1, track 11), lute (disc 2, track 7)
Katell Keineg—vocals (disc 1, tracks 5, 6)
Wang Guo Wei—erhu (disc 1, track 6)
Weng Po Wei—dizi flute (disc 1, track 6)
Sun Li—pipa (disc 1, track 6)
The Klezmatics—gang vocals (disc 1, track 7)
     Richie Barshay—frame drum, poyk, snare drum (disc 1, track 7)
     Lorin Sklamberg—accordion (disc 1, track 7)
     Paul Morrisset—acoustic bass guitar, baritone horn (disc 1, track 7)
     Matt Darriau—alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet (disc 1, track 7)
     Frank London—trumpet, alto horn (disc 1, track 7)
     Lisa Gutkin—fiddle (disc 1, track 7)
Marc Friedman—bass (disc 1, tracks 8, 9)
Erik Della Penna—guitar (disc 1, tracks 8, 9)
Dan Aran—drums, percussion (disc 1, track 8)
Greg Heffernan—cello (disc 1, track 8)
Uri Sharlin—accordion (disc 1, track 8)
Gilad Harel—clarinet (disc 1, track 8)
Sterling Campbell—drums (disc 1, track 9)
John Roberts—concertina (disc 1, track 11; disc 2, track 9), voice of the manservant (disc 1, track 11)
Motomi Igarashi—viola da gamba (disc 1, track 11; disc 2, track 7)
Deidre Rodman—harpsichord (disc 1, track 11)
Nina Stern—recorder (disc 1, track 11; disc 2, track 7), chalumeau (disc 1, track 11)
Hazmat Modine:
     Rich Huntley—drums (disc 1, tracks 12, 13)
     Pete Smith—electric guitar (disc 1, track 12), banjo (disc 1, track 13)
     Steve Elson—baritone saxophone (disc 1, tracks 12, 13), B-flat clarinet (disc 1, track 12), clarinet (disc 1, track 13)
     Pam Fleming—trumpet (disc 1, tracks 12, 13)
     Michael Gomez—dobro (disc 1, track 12), lap steel (disc 1, track 13)
     Wade Schuman—diatonic harmonica (disc 1, tracks 12, 13)
     William Barrett—chromatic harmonica (disc 1, tracks 12, 13)
     Joseph Daley—tuba (disc 1, tracks 12, 13)
The Ditty Bops:
     Abby DeWald—vocals (disc 1, track 13; disc 2, track 4)
     Amanda Barrett—vocals (disc 1, track 13; disc 2, track 4)
Blake Miller—accordion (disc 2, track 1)
Clark Gayton—horn arrangement, trombone (disc 2, track 3)
Horace James—keyboards (disc 2, track 3)
Hoova Simpson—bass (disc 2, track 3)
Andrew Bassford—guitar (disc 2, track 3)
Larry McDonald—percussion (disc 2, track 3)
Paul Sutton—drums (disc 2, track 3)
Gerald Johnson—saxophone (disc 2, track 3)
Eddie Allen—trumpet (disc 2, track 3)
Joanne Williams—vocals (disc 2, track 3)
Kimberly Miller—vocals (disc 2, track 3)
Victor Goines—clarinet (disc 2, track 4)
Wycliffe Gordon—trombone (disc 2, track 4)
The Memphis Boys:
     Bobby Wood—piano, Wurlitzer (disc 2, track 5)
     Bobby Emmons—Hammond (disc 2, track 5)
     Gene Chrisman—drums (disc 2, track 5)
     Reggie Young—guitar (disc 2, track 5)
     Michael Leech—bass (disc 2, track 5)
James Spake—horn arrangement, saxophone (disc 2, track 5)
Wayne Jackson—trumpet (disc 2, track 5)
Jack Hale—trombone (disc 2, track 5)
Sherry Sylar—oboe (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Marc Goldberg—bassoon (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Lino Gomez—bass clarinet (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Phil Myers—French horn (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Michelle Baker—French horn (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Erik Ralske—French horn (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Howard Wall—French horn (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Mike Davis—tenor trombone (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Birch Johnson—tenor trombone (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
George Flynn—bass trombone (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Kyle Turner—tuba (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Erik Charlston—percussion (disc 2, tracks 6, 12)
Ina Zdorovetchi—harp (disc 2, tracks 6, 11, 12)
Bruce Creditor—clarinet (disc 2, track 11)
Jessica Lizak—flute (disc 2, track 11)
Mihail Jojatu—cello (disc 2, track 13)
Owen Young—cello (disc 2, track 13)
Alberto Parrini—cello (disc 2, track 13)
Joseph Fire Crow—Native American flutes, drums, rattles, speaking (disc 2, track 13)
Jennifer Kreisberg—chanting (disc 2, track 13)

Produced by:

Natalie Merchant and Andres Levin

Comments:

"Leave Your Sleep" is a huge, ambitious project and isn't very easily accessible—even for long-time Natalie Merchant fans. There's no doubting the amount of talent and love that was pushed into this project—over 100 musicians helped create the wide variety of genres on display, and you can sense Natalie's emotion and attachment to the songs through her delivery. However, the final product feels unfocused and scattered. Natalie would have benefited from an editor, trimming down the number of tracks to around 10 of the best.
     With that said, there are still some excellent songs on here that keep me coming back. I'd encourage Natalie fans to spend time slogging through this huge album to find its few gems. (lasherboy@gmail.com)

The first time I listened to this album I got rather bored and turned it off. But over time and repeated listens I've found that there's quite a bit of lovely stuff, particularly on disc 1, 'Leave Your Supper.' I still find the second disc, 'Leave Your Sleep,' almost wholly unnecessary and at times even embarrassing (i.e. the Ôreggae' song). But while I doubt most people will love all 26 tracks, I think most will find things to like. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I've listened to this several times and looked at the book, and as far as I'm concerned this is one monstrous waste of time, talent and resources.
     As if the smallest coffee-table book in the world wasn't enough, replete with photos and biog of the authors and, natch, a couple of artfully posed ones of Ms Merchant composing, the whole project—piling on all manner of instrumentation, styles and guest artists onto what are, basically, pretty simplistic pieces—reeks of...well, indulgence, pouring on an overly-fussy and rich gravy and smothering whatever delicacy, humour or innocence there was in the first place. A lot of the songs exceed the 5-minute mark, and that doesn't even work for me, let alone any kids I know. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Natalie Merchant

Release info:

2014—Nonesuch—541042

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natalie Merchant—vocals

Guest artists:

Gabriel Gordon—electric guitars (1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10); acoustic guitars (1-5, 7, 10)
Erik Della Penna—electric guitar (1, 2, 4, 7, 8); lap steel guitar (3, 5); acoustic guitar (10)
Uri Sharlin—grand piano (1, 4, 10); Wurlitzer piano (2); accordion (5); electric piano (7); upright tack piano (10)
John Medeski—organ (1, 4); electric keyboard (2)
Jesse Murphy—electric bass (1, 2, 4, 6, 7); acoustic bass (5, 10); tuba (10)
Shawn Pelton—drums (1, 2, 4-7)
Andrew Barr—drums (3, 8)
Marc Friedman—electric bass (3, 8)
Clark Gayton—horn arrangement (4); trombone, tuba (4, 5)
Eddie Allen—trumpet, flugelhorn (4, 5)
Steve Elson—saxophones, clarinet (7)
Jonathan Dreyden—organ (8)
Kenny Wolleson—drums, percussion (10)
Mindy Kaufmann—flute (10)
Anthony McGill—clarinet (10)
Marc Goldberg—bassoon (10)
Johanna Warren—backing vocals (1, 2, 6)
Simi Stone—backing vocals (1, 4)
Tamar-Kali—backing vocals (1)
Elizabeth Mitchell—backing vocals (2, 6)
Corliss Stafford—vocals (4)
Lisa Kim—violin (1, 6, 10, 11)
Sharon Yamada—violin (1, 6, 10, 11)
Quan Ge—violin (1, 6, 11)
Joanna Maurer—violin (1, 6, 11)
Liz Lim—violin (1, 6, 11)
Sein Ryu—violin (1, 6, 11)
Robert Rinehart—viola (1, 6, 10, 11)
Vivek Kamath—viola (1)
Alan Stepansky—cello (1, 6, 10, 11)
Wei Yu—cello (1)
John Patitucci—double bass (1)
Jeremy McCoy—double bass (1, 6, 11)
Kyle Armbrust—viola (6, 11)
Ru Pie Yeh—cello (6, 11)
Kurt Muroki—double bass (6, 11)
Stephen Barber—string arrangement (1, 10); woodwind arrangement (10)
Nadége Foofat—string arrangement (6, 11)
Tony Finno—string arrangement (6, 11)

Produced by:

Natalie Merchant

Comments:

I really love it. It took a few listens to get into some of the earlier sections of the album, to really start to pick up the individual songs. But I can't stop listening to it.
     I wish there were a few more tracks with the sonic diversity of "It's A-Coming," but overall I think it's an incredibly strong album. (jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)

On the first few listens it seemed very pretty but a bit too same-y in mood and tempo. Over time the songs began to differentiate themselves, and I'm really liking the album now, more and more with each listen. The strongest tracks/best tracks to begin with are "Go Down Moses," "Giving Up Everything" (dark, but very interesting), and "It's A-Coming" (more up-tempo, with more of a groove). (JoAnn Whetsell)


Further info:

The Natalie Merchant Collected Songs 1985–2005 book was released in 2005.

DVDs

Natalie Merchant released Live in Concert in 1999 and VH1 Storytellers in 2005. She also appears in Come Together—A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music (2001), the DVDs of Charlie Rose's February 14, 1997 and June 1, 1998 shows (both released in 2006), and the Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Revisited DVD (2008).

Compilations

Natalie Merchant's recordings appear on several compilation albums. Songs only available on compilations include:

  • "One Fine Day" on the One Fine Day soundtrack (1996)
  • a live version of "I Know How to Do It" (The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1996)
  • "Children Go Where I Send Thee" on A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3 (1997)
  • "But Not For Me" on Red Hot + Rhapsody: The Gershwin Groove (1998)
  • a liver version of "In the Ghetto" on Lilith Fair: A Celebration Of Women In Music, Volume 2 (1999)
  • a live version of "Wonder" on The Best of Sessions at West 54th Vol. 1) (2001)
  • a live version of "Kind & Generous" on Radio Woodstock 25th Anniversary (2005)
  • "There Is No Good Reason" on Give US Your Poor: 17 New Recordings to End Homelessness (2007)
  • "Come Take a Trip in My Airship" on Every Child Deserves a Lifetime (2009)
Collaborations

Natalie has also recorded several collaborations with other artists. These songs include:

  • "Little April Shower" with Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.), Mark Bingham, and The Roches in the opening medley on the compilation Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988)
  • "Photograph" with R.E.M. on the compilation Born to Choose (1993)
  • "Birds and Ships" on Billy Bragg & Wilco's album Mermaid Avenue (1998) and on the compilation Martha Stewart Baby: Sleepytime (2001)
  • "The Lowlands of Holland" with the Chieftains on their album Tears of Stone (1999)
  • "Angelika" with Gabriel Gordon on his album Frequency (2000)
  • "I Was Born" on Billy Bragg & Wilco's album Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II (2000)
  • "River" and "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" with Susan McKeown on Prophecy (2002)
  • "Loch Lomond" with Dan Zanes on his album Catch That Train! (2006)
  • "Rain Rain Beautiful Rain" with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on their album Long Walk to Freedom (2006)
  • "Heaven" with Brett Dennen on the deluxe version of his album Hope for the Hopeless and as a single (2009)
  • "Natalie's Song" with Romero Lubambo and Cyro Baptista on Robert Sadin's album Art of Love: Music of Machaut (2009)
  • "Order 1081" on David Byrne & Fatboy Slim's album Here Lies Love (2010)
  • "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" with Katell Keineg on the compilation Radio Woodstock 30th Anniversary (2010)


Thanks to Andrew Fries and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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