Merchant Marks Release of "Leave Your Sleep" on NPR's "Morning Edition," ABC's "GMA"; BBC Cites Its "Sheer Ravishing Beauty"
Today is release day for Natalie Merchant's Leave Your Sleep, the most ambitious project of her celebrated, 25-year major-label career. She brilliantly adapts the works of such poets as Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Robert Graves into a musically kaleidoscopic, two-disc set of new songs. You can take a closer look inside the album's deluxe package in a new photo gallery at nonesuch.com/media and pick up a copy of the CD, with a free download of the album at no additional cost, in the Nonesuch Store.
Leave Your Sleep was the subject of a feature on the latest episode of NPR's Morning Edition. Merchant spoke with host Renée Montagne about the project, the poets whose works are featured on it, and one very special source of inspiration behind it: her daughter.
Says Montagne: "The range of emotions covered on Leave Your Sleep fits Merchant's overall goal for the record. While it's overtly about motherhood and childhood, Merchant says she views the two experiences as a good means through which to examine life as a whole."
Listen to the complete segment at npr.org.
In celebration of the album's release, Merchant performed the first of two consecutive nights at the New York Society for Ethical Culture's Concert Hall last night and was performing live again early this morning on ABC's Good Morning America. She spoke with host Robin Roberts about the project and performed the album tracks "Calico Pie." Both are available now at abcnews.go.com; you can watch the interview online here and watch the performance here. You can also hear "Calico Pie" on Nonesuch Radio.
In the UK, where the album released yesterday, the BBC suggests the seven years between studio recordings from Merchant were certainly productive ones. On Leave Your Sleep, says BBC reviewer Andrzej Lukowski, "you can feel the time spent on it, with near enough every track soaked in some distinct, lush musical trapping, be it bluegrass, reggae, warm woodwind, sprightly folk, southern-fried blues and, in the case of 'Bleezer's Ice-Cream,' 1950s-style advertising jingle."
Given that vast array of musical styles Merchant incorporated into the album, "What's astonishing is how cohesive it all is," says Lukowski. "Leave Your Sleep never feels over-extended. The sheer ravishing beauty of the arrangements, combined with the tasteful, organic aesthetic (no synths here), prevents things ever jarring, and Merchant's voice flows constant throughout, supple and hard as silken steel."
Read the complete album review at bbc.co.uk.
The Irish Times gives the album a perfect five stars. Times reviewer Joe Breen echoes Lukowski's sentiment that the time Merchant invested into the project certainly paid off and, indeed, "has delivered something special in both the abridged single album and the double album." Breen concludes that "her marriage of music and texts short-changes neither, while the vibrant and imaginative arrangements underpin Merchant's sensitive and utterly beguiling voice."
Read more at irishtimes.com.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Takiff says Merchant "travels interesting new paths" on Leave Your Sleep. "Note how Natalie dresses them in a variety of sonic garbs, from the New Orleans jazz of 'Bleezer's Ice-Cream' to the reggae-toned 'Topsyturvey-World,' with stellar backing by the likes of the Wynton Marsalis Quartet; Lunasa; Medeski, Martin & Wood; and the Klezmatics." You'll find that review at philly.com.