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Natalie Merchant 4 Albums 256k

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Natalie Merchant 4 Albums 256k

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Name:Natalie Merchant 4 Albums 256k

Total Size: 400.17 MB

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Though the minor hits "Wonder" and "Jealousy" bore a reasonable resemblance to Merchant's work with 10,000 Maniacs, most of Tigerlily clearly established her as a solo artist apart from her former band. The record's first single, "Carnival," drove that point home, with a hook based more on rhythm than melody and the haunting voice of Katell Keineg adding an intriguing dimension to the chorus. Elsewhere, much of Tigerlily is remarkably solemn and subtle, from the low-key opener "San Andreas Fault" to the widower's lament "My Beloved Wife" to the eight-minute opus "I May Know the Word." Also of note is "River," an emotional ode to friend and fallen star River Phoenix.


Miss Natalie needs to lighten up. Ophelia's a pretty heavy record, in terms of both the thick, string-heavy production and in terms of her protracted, pretentious songs. Merchant has a beautiful voice but she bogs it down with weighty themes that walk around in flashy clothes without going anywhere. She's even got, gulp, Tibetan lyric translations on "Effigy". It's telling that the best track here is the simplest--a lovely reading of an 1887 parlour hymn, "When They Ring The Golden Bells". Its genteel acoustic backdrop perfectly sets off Merchant's voice--and it's the only time she sings with a passion that doesn't feel pretended. Guests include Daniel Lanois and The Innocence Mission.

After her departure from 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant declared her artistic independence with the enormously popular TIGERLILY, an album not entirely dissimilar in style to her formergroup. Her highly anticipated followup mines a somewhat more introspective vein, as Merchant pursues her muse at length(many cuts hover around the five minute mark). The bulk of the tunes here are ballads adorned by piano, organ and strings, often achieving an almost ecclesiastical tone, as on the title cut, an exploration of a mythical woman who appears in many guises throughout history.
Even relatively upbeat tunes like "Kind & Generous" and "Break Your Heart" retain the delicacy, sweetness and luxurious feel that have become Merchant's trademarks. The aforementioned spiritual element resurfaces in the bible-conscious lyrics of "Thick As Thieves" and the almost Carter Family-ish country spiritual "When They Ring The Golden Bells", a Merchant original that sounds like it could have been written 100 years ago. Presumably, that's just the kind of timelessness Merchant is aiming for on OPHELIA.


Just as Natalie Merchant donned a mythical persona for her last proper solo release, 1998's Ophelia, the buttery-voiced performer enjoys another stint as a quick-change artist on Motherland. From the trilling Middle Eastern flavor of opener "This House Is on Fire" to the evocative Latin classical guitar tones on "The Worst Thing," Merchant seems to enjoy pressing her steadfast, throaty vocals into new terrain as much as she does trying on dresses and high heels. While most of Motherland resides in the downtempo, ballad-heavy world that Ophelia did, most of the singer's diehard fans will appreciate her thoughtful phrasing and pastel soundscapes. There may not be fireworks, but the ex-10,000 Maniacs frontwoman knows her way around a sad song: "Golden Boy" excels as a wispy November poem, while she wiggles into torch-singer mode on "Put the Law on You." But the record's true standout is "Tell Yourself," an almost sprightly tune with sunny acoustics that resemble the Maniacs' "Don't Talk." Merchant may not be inherently comfortable in her own skin, but, like a salamander, she's excellent at transforming her surroundings without sacrificing her creative soul

The House Carpenter's Daughter

The first release on Merchant's own indie label, Myth America, is a great and understated album and a sweet surprise after so many years of lushly-produced adult pop. Portentously subtitled "A Collection of Traditional & Contemporary Folk Music," it's not as dry as its title implies. Her connoisseur selection of covers and well-written liner notes show Merchant to be no O Brother-come-lately. Of particular note are her versions of '90s indie act the Horseflies' "Sally Ann," the Appalachian ballad "House Carpenter," and an obscure, 18th-century Protestant hymn, "Weeping Pilgrim." And while it would be a lie to say that she sings Fairport Convention's "Crazy Man Michael" any better than Sandy Denny did in 1968, her version holds its own (not an easy thing to do). The Fairport template, to add electric instrumentation to traditional folk music, is one that's followed throughout House Carpenter's Daughter, but the arrangements are respectful and smart throughout. The songs are always given room to breathe, to tell their earnest and well-worn truths. Merchant's distinctive, vowel-heavy voice has not sounded this gorgeous in years.

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