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FUV's New Dig: Natalie Merchant

by Darren DeVivo
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Dan Winters photo

Natalie Merchant
Natalie Merchant
Nonesuch Records

Natalie Merchant has returned — not that she really ever went away.

Natalie has just released Natalie Merchant, her seventh solo album. It's only been four years since Leave Your Sleep, but this is her first album of all original material in nearly 13 years. Since 2001’s Motherland, Natalie released a covers album of traditional and contemporary folk songs (The House Carpenter’s Daughter), an album of music adapted from 19th and 20th century British and American poetry about childhood (Leave Your Sleep) and an anthology of her solo recordings.

Natalie Merchant brings together songs she's been writing for well over a decade, created at a time when she was starting her family and wasn’t actively recording music. These are also songs that weren’t appropriate for the albums she was working on in recent years.

The influence of the ambitious Leave Your Sleep project is apparent; this new album brings together Natalie’s pop music past with her more recent forays into the symphonic world. You could say that this album is one that brings together all of Natalie’s experiences as a musician and documents her transformation as an artist.

Natalie Merchant blends topics one would expect her to touch on: Personal songs from within, as well as socially and politically driven songs inspired by the world we live in. In songs like “Giving Up Everything,” “Seven Deadly Sins” and “The End,” Natalie addresses growing older and dealing with life’s struggles. Yet, as she reaches her early 50s, she exudes confidence and satisfaction from what she learned from life’s lessons. “It’s A-Coming” reflects on the challenges facing mankind today. “Go Down, Moses” addresses post-Katrina New Orleans. “Lulu” reflects on the life of silent film actress Louise Brooks.

With this new, self-titled album, Natalie Merchant picks up where she left off, returns to where she’s been, and embraces what she’s learned — ready to step into her future.
 

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