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The House Carpenter's Daughter Limited Edition, Import

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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The House Carpenter's Daughter
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Audio CD, Limited Edition, Import, September 16, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

(2003/MYTH) 11 tracks

Medium 1
Which Side Are You On?
Crazy Man Michael
Diver Boy
Weeping Pilgrim
Soldier, Soldier
Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow
House Carpenter
Down On Penny's Farm
Poor Wayfaring Stranger

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. -- Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 16, 2003)
  • limited_edition edition
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Limited Edition, Import
  • Label: Myth America
  • ASIN: B0000CH9BH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,844 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
My initial fears were that Natalie Merchant's new independently released folk album might be too "folksy" -- my expression for some music that can sound too dry, too unimaginative, or too old fashioned. But those concerns evaporated within a few seconds of hearing the playful fiddle of Judy Hyman dancing out of the speakers on the first track. Fifty minutes later, I knew I had another CD that would make its home in the pile near the CD player rather than in the proper shelves that are rarely consulted.
Of course, the centerpiece of this 11-song collection is Ms. Merchant's warm, round voice -- only now it is stripped of the polished and comparatively intrusive pop production qualities often evident in her recent mainstream releases. I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Merchant's previous work, going way back to 10,000 Maniacs and though Tigerlilly, Ophelia, and Motherland. But this CD is Ms. Merchant made plain to see and, as a result, a joy to listen to.
The song selection is the other key element to this collection, and even for folks who aren't so familiar with some the story behind these songs (like me), the well-written liner notes help to compensate. The arrangements themselves are intelligent and understated, and music is top-notch while staying in its proper supporting role.
The last selling point of this CD is the attractive package it comes in: a limited edition version that includes a smart booklet that, among other things, explains Ms. Merchant's view that folk music is simply something "universally loved and understood" that will "endure the test of time ... because it has made itself useful to so many of us." By that standard, the House Carpenter's Daughter is far more "folksy" that I initially feared -- and thank goodness for that.
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Format: Audio CD
When we last heard from Natalie two years ago, "Motherland" proved to be her major label swan song. Natalie has chosen to go her own way, not only in going truly 'indie' to issue her albums, but also musically. Subtitled "A Collection of Traditional & Contemporary Folk Music", it's Natalie's way of saying "please don't come looking for another Candy Everybody Wants". So ok, we get the idea, but the question is: is the new album any good?
The answer is a resounding YES. "The House Carpenter's Daughter" (11 tracks, 50 min.) is a gorgeous collection of songs. Album opener "Sally Ann" is one of the standouts, with great violin solos. "Which Side Are You On?" follows very nicely. The album overall reminds me of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, so it's not a surprise that Natalie covers the Convention's "Crazy Man Michael", just beautiful. "House Carpenter" is the epic center-piece of the album, with great banjo work. Song titles like "Weeping Pelgrim" and "Weeping Willow" convey that there is a lot of heartache, but Natalie has not lost her sense of humor, witness the witty (and danceable) "Soldier, Soldier" tune.
In all, this is wonderful album. It's become clear to me that with each subsequent album, Natalie strays further from the mainstream, with great results. No, you won't hear this on your localcommercial radio station. But Natalie has earned my trust that I can say I will buy a new Natalie album, sounds unheard, confident that she will surprise and delight me. I can only hope taht she will take this album on the road, often and loud... By all means, BUY THIS!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
a long time fan of the maniacs and natalie, i would like to say how happy i am for this next step in the musical exploration of her's. i have grown up with her music and have found much strength and voice through her poetry and conviction.

as i have lived, i have learned things i feel mimiced in natalie's voice and her approach to the art and science of muscial communication and discent. she speaks volumes in those slow thoughtful moments and other times her voice is full with emotions that have no words. i can imagine some people who wrote negative reviews can't hear her strength and maturing wisdom in her amazing music on this album. i'm blown away by the beauty of her voice. my god, it's thick with her desire to understand and express her interpretation of her art. not to mention the amazing musical work of the bangos, violins, guitars... wonderful.

so yeah, as someone who has respected natalie merchant for her strength of character and the stories she endured to tell, i feel more expression in her voice than ever. she touches me deeply.
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Format: Audio CD
It's great! I feel confident enough to say that if you like traditional or roots music (and not a complete purist), you will really appreciate this.

Johnny Cashs' version of Wayfaring Stranger blew me away. Merchant's version is quite different again but handled with equal gravity and appreciation. Also outstanding are Sally Ann, Which side are you on? (a stirring union song), Crazy Michael and Soldier, soldier. The traditional Down on Penny's Farm is energised and breathtaking hoedown music. Other styles are just as competently and confidently performed. Soldier, soldier is reminiscent of the bass heavy electric folk that Steeleye Span once did so well - though this has a more contemporary feel to it. The album is up there with Gillian Welch's Revelator which is one of the other really, really good modern folk recordings I've heard.

Natalie Merchant has been accused by critics of being pretentious and dour etc, however I did not get that impression from listening to this album. Don't let the critics fool you. The House Capenter's daughter is an excellent modern folk recording.
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