Natalie Merchant and her eight-piece band have made their way to the West Coast of the United States for several shows in California this week, performing at the Fox Theater in Oakland tonight, the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Friday, and the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego on Saturday. Now comes word that, a month after the close of the current tour in September, Merchant will hit the road again, this time backed by a full symphony orchestra.
Starting October 8 at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York, and running through October 19 at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware, Merchant will play five very special shows in the Northeast joined by area orchestras to perform both new songs from her recent Nonesuch debut album, Leave Your Sleep, and some of her best known hits. Also included are shows at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (October 13); the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown, New Jersey (October 15); and the American Music Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (October 17). For more information and links, go to nonesuch.com/on-tour.
LA Weekly, previewing Friday's show at the Oprheum, says, "Natalie Merchant manages to make what would seem to be a stuffy premise—putting melodies to the classic words of dead poets—into the most sonically adventurous project of her career." Merchant spoke about the making of the album with LA Weekly's Falling James, who explains: "Known more as a singer and lyricist, she proves to be uncanny at conjuring the perfect and surprisingly eclectic musical settings for these old poems, on her new double CD, Leave Your Sleep." Read the extensive article at laweekly.com.
The Atlantic, reviewing last week's concert in Seattle, describes Merchant's current summer tour as "audacious" for its unique focus on the poets and poetry featured on Leave Your Sleep. "And yet, it worked—in wondrous ways," says reviewer John Douglas Marshall. As on the new album, "what Merchant provided on stage was a tour de force through a host of musical genres that included New Orleans, Chinese, Jazz Age, Celtic, R & B, bluegrass."
Following a full set of songs from Leave Your Sleep, Merchant performed an encore featuring favorite songs from throughout her career. "The whole summer concert could have been filled with such crowd-pleasing songs, as was probably expected by many," Marshall suggests, "but Merchant truly earned her lingering standing ovations for something far rarer—an artist's creative and courageous venture into new territory altogether."
Read the complete article at theatlantic.com.
At Merchant and her band's recent sold-out set at the Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, "the crowd was treated to an ambitious, engaging performance," says Salt Lake Tribune reviewer David Burger. "Merchant is known as a brassy, deep singer with interesting nuances that are like a captivating deep chocolate," write Burger. "But what made the first half of the show [featuring songs from Leave Your Sleep] so enthralling is that each poem was performed in a different style." Read the complete concert review at sltrib.com.
To pick up a copy of Leave Your Sleep with high-quality MP3s of the complete album included at checkout, head to the Nonesuch Store.