Album Review: Motherland by Natalie Merchant

Album Name: Motherland
Artist: Natalie Merchant
Year/Label: 2002 / WEA/Elektra

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

Natalie is back. The first thing you’ll notice is that on her new CD, “Motherland” her voice is much deeper, more mature than on previous releases. It’s a nice change….and I loved her voice before too.

The CD starts out with a powerful song, “This House is on Fire” which really shows off the richness in her “new” voice.

I would say this CD has a more varied feel than her previous release, “Tigerlily”. There are some fairly “rockin'” songs as well as her beautiful ballads. Many of the songs have a semi-Chris Issak feel. That of “Wicked Game” more than his other rock-a-billy tunes.

My favorites are title track, “Motherland” and “Build a Levee” which you may have heard her perform on various shows like Letterman. I also like “Tell Yourself” and “Just Can’t Last” which is reminiscent of her older 10,000 Maniacs sound. Well, they’re all good, really.

The only drawback is not Natalie’s fault but the fault of her marketers. The CD is “enhanced” and I used the term loosely because it does not enhance the listening pleasure in my opinion.

I often listen to CDs on my computer (I have a system that is made for this, so the sound quality is very good). When I popped this one in I got a splash screen asking if I wanted to visit her web site or play music. Well, obviously I wanted to play the music. If I wanted to visit her website I would have just done so the normal way. By the way, you should visit her site, it has been recently redesigned and very nice). But when I clicked “play music” it opened up the default CD player which doesn’t recognize the CD. Then I went into Explorer to pick the tracks and they’ve hidden them (even with “show hidden files” checked I can’t see them.) So in order to play the CD on my computer. I have to close the splash screen, open up another CD player in the system (often having to open and close it many times until it recognizes the CD) and then just hope it plays. This I believe is a HUGE drawback. So if any of you mucky-mucks at the record label are reading this…please take heart!

Other than that, this is a fabulous recording. If you’re a Natalie Merchant fan, it’s a must and if you’re not already a fan it will make you one.

Posted on January 18, 2002

Track Listing
1.The House Is On Fire
2. Motherland
3. Saint Judas
4. Put The Law On You
5. Build A Levee
6. Golden Boy
7. The Ballad Of Henry Darger
8. The Worst Thing
9. Tell Yourself
10. Just Can’t Last
11. Not In This Life
12. I’m Not Gonna Beg

[Natalie Merchant Official Site]


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