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Leave Your Sleep (2CD)


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Audio CD, April 13, 2010
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Leave Your Sleep (2CD) + Natalie Merchant + Motherland
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Editorial Reviews

'This album captures so many magical moments, the best times I've ever had as a musician,' declares singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant of 'Leave Your Sleep,' her ambitious, two-disc Nonesuch debut. Merchant, celebrated solo artist and one-time voice of 10,000 Maniacs, took on what could have been a daunting task: she's adapted 19th and 20th century British and American poetry - well-known and obscure works, anonymous rhymes, children's lullabies, all of it timeless
material full of direct emotion - and fashioned new songs from these words. Among the poets she chose were Robert Graves, Charles Manley Hopkins, Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The project, five years in the making, has clearly had a liberating effect on Merchant. Never has she sounded so free-spirited, so full of musical
adventure, whether backed by small jazzy combos or elegant chamber ensembles. The tracks she's created range from exotic ('The King of China's Daughter') to earthy ('Peppery Man'), soothing ('I Saw A Ship A-Sailing') to swinging ('The Janitor's Boy'), mischievous ('It Makes A Change') to moving ('Spring and Fall'). The string arrangements are particularly
stirring, recalling Joshua Rifkin's now-classic work on Judy Collins' 'Wildflowers.'
There's plenty of child-like wonder, counterbalanced with grown-up sophistication. Says Merchant, 'It was an exciting, new approach for me to work with rhythm and rhyme schemes created by other writers. The poems inspired vastly different musical settings with their themes that ranged from humorous and absurd to tragic, romantic, and deeply spiritual. Over the course of three years I wrote 40 of these poem-songs and 30 were eventually recorded.'
Merchant co-produced 'Leave Your Sleep' with Venezuelan musician-composer Andres Levin, a frequent collaborator of David Byrne and Arto Lindsay, and one of the creators of the eclectic Red Hot charity series. Over the course of a year's worth of exhilarating, musically shape-shifting sessions, they drew upon no less than 125 musicians from the varied worlds
of, among other things, Cajun, country, jazz, chamber music, R&B, Celtic, and reggae. The revitalized Merchant explains, 'I called on old friends and approached many new musicians I only knew through admiring their work... The sessions were recorded in live ensemble workshop settings that captured pure and authentic sounds played with incredibly fresh and
spontaneous energy.'
'Leave Your Sleep' is an inspired return for Merchant, her first studio album in six years - an effort long awaited by her considerable fan base. It also marks her 25th year as a uniquely successful major-label artist, one whose work has consistently enjoyed equal measures of commercial and critical success. Though she has regularly lent her talents over the last few years to the many nonprofit causes she supports, Merchant has actively returned to the concert stage in recent months, previewing material from 'Leave Your Sleep,' on a series of dates in England and continental Europe. A full U.S. tour is being planned for summer 2010.

Disc: 1
1. Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience
2. Equestrienne
3. Calico Pie
4. Bleezer's Ice-Cream
5. It Makes a Change
6. The King of China's Daughter
7. The Dancing Bear
8. The Man in the Wilderness
9. maggie and milly and molly and may
10. If No One Ever Marries Me
See all 13 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Adventures of Isabel
2. The Walloping Window Blind
3. Topsyturvey-World
4. The Janitor's Boy
5. Griselda
6. The Land of Nod
7. Vain and Careless
8. Crying, My Little One
9. Sweet and a Lullaby
10. I Saw a Ship A-Sailing
See all 13 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 13, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: 2010
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B002ZCDR88
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,508 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 161 people found the following review helpful By O. MICHAEL on April 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Releases by Natalie have been few and far between since she left 10,000 Maniacs, so the release of the first new material in 7 years will be welcome news to her fans. Natalie is now signed to the Nonesuch label and this album is available in 2 different versions. A 2 disc set [the Complete Works] and a Selections from the Album Leave Your Sleep [Selections from it] . Initially Natalie wanted to release it in two separate volumes, but the record label decided it would be better to release it as a double album - as it currently sits so high in the Amazon charts the marketing men obviously got this right. I think there will be a lot of people who will turn their nose up at this because of what it is percieved to be - childrens poetry set to music. But anyone who has heard any tracks from it will be pleasantly surprised.

That music and poetry should meet at some point is not a surprise. There has over the years been a number of musical projects related to the work of different poets, I can think of the "Now & In Time to Be" project that featured the works of WB Yeats or Rufus Wainwright recent trips into Shakespeare territory. And now we have this release. An initial glimpse at the poets involved lead to the thought "who be them?" as I had never heard of many of them before, but dont let that put you off.

This is not an album for children. It is at some level an album about childhood. From Natalie's own words it features poetry "about, for or by children" and "a child's emergence into the world of language". It may well appeal to children, but it is, as far from, a kids record as you can imagine.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By To Be Simple VINE VOICE on April 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I am a big fan of 10,000 Maniacs/Natalie Merchant. It has been tough waiting so long for a new album after her last release (The excellent "The House Carpenter's Daughter"). The long wait has been amply rewarded with the two-disc set "Leave Your Sleep." The album details are covered enough in the product description and other reviews, so I will not go into the impressive list of contributing musicians and amazing process Merchant used in making the album.

The aspect of "Leave Your Sleep" that impresses me most is the high quality of Merchant's voice. She has never sounded this good, which is saying something. Sure, the selection of poetry is awesome and the music itself is brilliant, but it is Natalie's vocals that tie everything together and make this album such a masterpiece. She delivers perfect vocals throughout the two discs. Given the wide variety of styles among the 26 songs, one would think there might be a few so-so songs. Not so. Natalie can take virtually any genre and make it her own. I am enjoying everything about "Leave Your Sleep." It will take me more time to fully digest everything about the album, but so far after listening through the discs several times I am amazed at how my already lofty expectations have been exceeded. I only hope that Natalie doesn't leave us hanging so long between this album and her next.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By O. MICHAEL on April 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Releases by Natalie have been few and far between since she left 10,000 Maniacs, so the release of the first new material in 7 years will be welcome news to her fans. Natalie is now signed to the Nonesuch label and this album is available in 2 different versions. A Leave Your Sleep (2CD) [the Complete Works] and a single disc release [Selections from it] . Initially Natalie wanted to release it in two separate volumes, but the record label decided it would be better to release it as a double album - as it currently sits so high in the Amazon charts the marketing men obviously got this right. I think there will be a lot of people who will turn their nose up at this because of what it is percieved to be - childrens poetry set to music. But anyone who has heard any tracks from it will be pleasantly surprised.

That music and poetry should meet at some point is not a surprise. There has over the years been a number of musical projects related to the work of different poets, I can think of the "Now & In Time to Be" project that featured the works of WB Yeats or Rufus Wainwright recent trips into Shakespeare territory. And now we have this release. An initial glimpse at the poets involved lead to the thought "who be them?" as I had never heard of many of them before, but dont let that put you off.

This is not an album for children. It is at some level an album about childhood. From Natalie's own words it features poetry "about, for or by children" and "a child's emergence into the world of language". It may well appeal to children, but it is, as far from, a kids record as you can imagine.
Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Natalie Merchant has long left the commercial/mainstream musical scene. Her previous 2 albums, 2001's "Motherland" and 2003's "The House Carpenter's Daughter" were each fantastic, and deeply personal, albums, so for anyone looking for more of "Tigerlily" or even the 10,000 Maniacs sound, surely a disappoitment. Since her last album 7 years ago, Natalie became a mother and she has spent time away to be with her young daughter. Now comes the long-awaited new album.

"Leave Your Sleep" (2 CDs; 26 tracks; 105 min.) is Natalie's most personal album yet, if you can believe that. In the Introduction of the wonderful 80 page booklet that comes with this album, Natalie writes "This collection of songs represents parts of a long conversation I've had with my daughter during the first six years of her life". The entire collection overwhelms you at first, given the scope of the project, and it takes several listens to start feeling at home with it, so to speak. This is, in essence, a childrens' album for adults, although it doesn't sound like that. From the first sounds of the opening track "Nursery Rhymes of Innocense and Experience", the album gives a distinct feeling of Irish-themed music (with lots of flutes in many of the songs), while others feel like cabaret-lite (and I mean that in the best sense). The reggae-flavored "Topsyturvy World" is a rare (but great) departure. But what carries this album more than anything else, is Natalie's warm and soothing voice.

Despite the personal theme to the album, I did not find the emotional bond that I had (and still have) with the "Motherland" and "House Carpenter" albums, reason I rate this album "only" 4 stars.
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10,000 Maniacs
None of them is doing that well without the others? Are you including Natalie Merchant in this statement? Judge not an artist by their selling feats, but by their artistic integrity.
It doesn't get any better than Natalie. Yes, it would be great to see the Maniacs get back together, but let's... Read More
May 14, 2010 by Daniel L. Morris |  See all 5 posts
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