Leave Your Sleep

Leave Your Sleep

4.5 34
by Natalie Merchant

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Throughout her career, Natalie Merchant has thrived on exceeding her own expectations -- no matter where her Muses led or her critics forbade her to go. Her last album, 2003's The House Carpenter's Daughter, rooted in American and British Isles folk traditions, was a stepping stone toward Leave Your Sleep. Where the former's songs were made of originalsSee more details below


Throughout her career, Natalie Merchant has thrived on exceeding her own expectations -- no matter where her Muses led or her critics forbade her to go. Her last album, 2003's The House Carpenter's Daughter, rooted in American and British Isles folk traditions, was a stepping stone toward Leave Your Sleep. Where the former's songs were made of originals and covers, the latter marries them in sung poetry and original music from various traditions. Co-produced by Merchant and Andres Levin, the double-disc Leave Your Sleep contains 26 new songs recorded live in the studio. She used the poems, anonymous nursery rhymes, and lullabies of 19th and 20th century British and American writers as source material and set them to original music. Among the authors included are Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Edward Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mervyn Peake, Eleanor Farjeon, Nathalia Crane, and Robert Graves. Poetry is but one part of the story, however. Merchant composed music from across the genre spectrum: New Orleans swing on "Bleezer's Ice Cream" (Jack Prelutsky) and Crane's "The Janitor's Boy" are performed by Merchant fronting the Wynton Marsalis Orchestra; the Yiddish folk music of "Dancing Bear" (Albert Bigelow Paine) pairs her with the Klezmatics; Peake's "It Makes a Change" is performed by Medeski, Martin & Wood with a horn section; "If No One Ever Marries Me" (Laurence Alan-Tameda) is Appalachian backporch music with hammered dulcimer, banjo, upright bass, and guitar. "The Blind Men and the Elephant" (John Godfrey Saxe) is cabaret jazz played by Hazmat Modine with the Fairfield Four and the Ditty Bops on backing vocals. Stevenson's "Land of Nod" is a gorgeous orchestral piece with a Celtic flavor. Speaking of Celtic, Rosetti's "Crying, My Little One" is performed by Lunasa backing Merchant. Through it all, of course, is that voice, Merchant's throaty trademark. It expresses itself emotionally, honestly, and precisely, without resorting to dramatic tropes to get meaning across. The album closes first with Hopkins' contemplative, melancholy "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child," with a symphony orchestrated by Merchant and Sean O'Loughlin, and finally with Lydia Huntley Sigourney's haunting "Indian Names" by a string quartet accompanied by Joseph Fire Crow on Native American flutes, drums, rattles, and narrative, with chanting by Jennifer Kreisberg. It sends the set off much where it begins, illustrating poetry's ability to provide its own musical instruction, comfort, poignancy, and sense of wonder to the experience of everyday living. Merchant succeeds in spades; the extensive research and discipline pay off handsomely. Leave Your Sleep is easily her most ambitious work, yet because of that welcoming voice, it provides familiarity enough to gather listeners inside this world of sound.

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Product Details

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Disc 1

  1. Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience  -  Lúnasa
  2. Equestrienne  -  Meridian Arts Ensemble
  3. Calico Pie
  4. Bleezer's Ice-Cream
  5. It Makes a Change  -  Medeski, Martin & Wood
  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
  11. The Sleepy Giant
  12. The Peppery Man  -  Hazmat Modine
  13. The Blind Men And the Elephant  -  Hazmat Modine

Disc 2

  1. Adventures of Isabel
  2. The Walloping Window Blind  -  Lúnasa
  3. Topsyturvey-World
  4. The Janitor's Boy  -  Ditty Bops
  5. Griselda
  6. The Land of Nod
  7. Vain and Careless
  8. Crying, My Little One  -  Lúnasa
  9. Sweet and a Lullaby
  10. I Saw a Ship a-Sailing  -  Lúnasa
  11. Autumn Lullaby
  12. Spring and Fall: To a Young Child
  13. Indian Names

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Natalie Merchant   Primary Artist
Bobby Wood   Piano,Wurlitzer
Bill Spence   Hammered Dulcimer
John Roberts   Concertina,Voices
Eddie Allen   Trumpet
Andy Bassford   Guitar
Sterling Campbell   Drums
Gene Chrisman   Drums
Greg Cohen   Bass
Joseph Daley   Tuba
Matt Darriau   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Karen Dreyfus   Viola
Steve Elson   Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone,B-Flat Clarinet
Bobby Emmons   Hammond Organ
Isaac Freeman   Vocals
Clark Gayton   Trombone
Victor Goines   Clarinet
Wycliffe Gordon   Trombone
Lisa Gutkin   Fiddle
Jack Hale   Trombone
Trevor Hutchinson   Upright Bass
Judy Hyman   Fiddle
Wayne Jackson   Trumpet
Birch Johnson   Tenor Trombone
Katell Keineg   Vocals
Jennifer Kreisberg   Chant
Jeanne LeBlanc   Cello
Dan Levine   Tuba,Alto Horn,Bass Trombone
Frank London   Trumpet,Alto Horn
Wynton Marsalis   Trumpet
Larry McDonald   Percussion
John Medeski   Piano
Sandra Park   Violin
Erik Ralske   French Horn
Lorin Sklamberg   Accordion
Jim Spake   Saxophone
Paul Sutton   Drums
Howard Wall   French Horn
Joanne Williams   Vocals
Reggie Young   Guitar
Billy Martin   Drums
Amanda Barrett   Vocals
Walter Blanding   Saxophone
Lino Gomez   Bass Clarinet
Sherry Sylar   Oboe
Kevin Crawford   Flute,Vocals,Bodhran,tin whistle,Low Whistle
Joe Rice   Vocals
Michael Leonhart   Trumpet
Joseph Fire Crow   Drums,Rattles,Native American Flute,Spoken Word
Richie Stearns   Banjo
Erik Della Penna   Guitar
Bruce Creditor   Clarinet
Benjamin Herrington   Trombone
Marc Goldberg   Bassoon
Sean Smyth   Fiddle
Artis Wodehouse   Pump Organ
Daniel Grabois   Horn
Chris Wood   Bass
Nina Stern   Recorder,Chalumeau
Anne Lehmann   Violin
Horace James   Keyboards
Carlos Henríquez   Bass
Eileen Moon   Cello
Sharon Yamada   Violin
Owen Young   Cello
Robert Rinehart   Viola
Marc Friedman   Bass
Phil Myers   French Horn
Gabriel Gordon   Guitar
Robert Hamlett   Vocals
Cillian Vallely   uillean pipes,Low Whistle
Lisa Kim   Violin
Deidre Rodman   Harpsichord
Paul Meehan   Acoustic Guitar
Jeremy McCoy   Bass
George Flynn   Bass Trombone
Gerald Johnson   Saxophone
Doug Wamble   Banjo,Guitar
Shan Jiang   Violin
Brian McWhorter   Trumpet
Abby DeWald   Vocals
Mark Murphy   Upright Bass
Michael Leech   Bass
Edward Hall   Vocals
Uri Sharlin   Accordion
Greg Heffernan   Cello
Dan Nimmer   Piano
Richie Barshay   Snare Drums,Frame Drum,Poyk
Minyoung Baik   Violin
Pete Smith   Banjo,Electric Guitar
Michael Gomez   Dobro,Lap Steel Guitar
Dan Aran   Percussion,Drums
Mike Davis   Tenor Trombone
Arnaud Sussmann   Violin
Kimberly Miller   Vocals
Michelle Baker   French Horn
Gilad Harel   Clarinet
Kyle Turner   Tuba
Raymond G. Stewart   Tuba
Jon Nelson   Trumpet
Motomi Igarashi   Viola Da Gamba
Mihail Jojatu   Cello
Ina Zdorovetchi   Harp
William Barrett   Chromatic Harmonica
Joseph Thompson   Vocals
Paul Morrisset   Bass Guitar,Baritone Horn
Erik Charlston   Percussion
Pam Fleming   Trumpet
Rich Huntley   Drums
Sun Li   Pipa
Wang Guo Wei   Erhu
Weng Po Wei   Dizi
Jessica Lizak   Flute
Hoova Simpson   Bass
Dieter Hennings   Acoustic Guitar,Lute,Theorbo,Baroque Guitar
Alberto Parrini   Cello
Matt Lehmann   Violin

Technical Credits

Ogden Nash   Composer,Text
Jack Prelutsky   Composer,Text,Photo Courtesy
Stephen Barber   Arranger,Orchestration,String Arrangements
Nick Brophy   Engineer
Clark Gayton   Horn Arrangements
Andres Levin   Producer
Wynton Marsalis   Arranger
Natalie Merchant   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Orchestration,String Arrangements,Introduction
Jim Spake   Horn Arrangements
Michael Leonhart   Horn Arrangements
Paul Antonell   Studio Manager
Mark Seliger   Cover Photo
e.e. cummings   Composer,Text
Nick Wollage   Engineer
Eleanor Farjeon   Composer,Text
Sarah Cullen   Licensing
Carla Sacks   Publicity
Mervyn Peake   Composer,Text
Matthew Rankin   Publicity
Charles Causley   Composer,Text
Robert Edridge-Waks   Editorial Manager
Sean O'Loughlin   Orchestration,String Arrangements
Anne Harvey   Photo Courtesy
Sebastian Wintermute   Photo Restoration
Joseph Martin Kronheim   Illustrations
David Rands   Photo Courtesy
Nathalia Crane   Composer,Text

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