Natalie Merchant Returns with "Leave Your Sleep" on 4/13

"Leave Your Sleep" (Nonesuch Records)

“This new collection of songs, Leave Your Sleep, is my first studio album since 2003.  It is the most elaborate project I have ever completed or imagined” – Natalie Merchant

Amazingly, one of the first bios for her old band 10,000 Maniacs includes dub and reggae as influences.  Reggae is a difficult style to adopt, and artists such as Willie Nelson and Sinéad O’Connor have been on this very blog with mixed results. Natalie’s song is on the top end, like Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion,” and I am proud to promote it here (see below).

“I have always loved many different styles of music but had barely scratched the surface of those genres on my own recordings. This time in the studio I really wanted to experiment to I called on some of the most accomplished musicians in Cajun, bluegrass, reggae, chamber and early music, jazz and R&B, as well as Balkan, Chinese and Celtic Folk. Some were old friends and some were artists whose work I had admired from afar, such as The Wynton Marsalis Quintet; Medeski, Martin & Wood; The Klezmatics; members of the New York Philharmonic; Lúnasa; The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York; The Memphis Boys; Katell Keineg; and Hazmat Modine. The sessions were recorded in live ensemble settings to capture a fresh and spontaneous energy; they were some of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had making music.

Exclusive Earbender Audio Preview:

“Topsyturvey-World” by Natalie Merchant

The lyrics for Leave Your Sleep are another departure from the way I had written for the past 28 years.  I decided to set poetry created by other writers to music.   I chose works by both well-known and obscure poets, ranging from anonymous nursery rhymes and lullabies to poems by British Victorians, early – and mid-20th century Americans, and a few contemporary writers.  Ogden Nash; e.e. cummings; Robert Louis Stevenson; Christina Rosetti; Edward Lear; Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Graves are among the most well-known of the group.

It was exciting for me to work with the rhythm and rhyme schemes by these poets, which I did over the course of four years.  The poems inspired vastly different musical settings with themes that ranged from humorous and absurd to tragic, romantic and deeply spiritual.

The recording took a full year to complete, involving 130 musicians.  My co-producer was Andres Levin, who has worked with Marisa Monte, David Byrne, Carlinhos Brown and OrishasLeave Your Sleep was engineered by Nick Wollage, a British soundtrack recordist for such films as Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, Miss Potter, Gosford Park and The Merchant of Venice.  The mixing was done by the legendary Steven Rosenthal in his downtown Manhattan studio, The Magic Shop.

Natalie Merchant

Upcoming appearances:

April 12 & 13: The NY Society for Ethical Culture, New York, NY; April 14: Barnes & Noble, Union Square, New York, NY; April 20: Harold Williams Auditorium at The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA; April 22: The Aratani Theatre, Los Angeles, CA; April 24: Rubloff Auditorium at The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; April 25: E-Town at the Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO; April 28: The Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA; April 30: Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.; May 1: PEN World Voices Festival, New York, NY

Full US tour coming soon.  For the latest Natalie Merchant activities, please click here.

To buy a copy of the album, please click here.

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