Leave Your Sleep

Leave Your Sleep

4.5 35
by Natalie Merchant

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Throughout her career, Natalie Merchant has thrived on exceeding only her own expectations. 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…  See more details below


Throughout her career, Natalie Merchant has thrived on exceeding only her own expectations. 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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Leave Your Sleep 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
glauver 3 months ago
Natalie Merchant was the idealistic protest songwriter-voice of 10.000 Maniacs. This lavish double CD is totally different from the Maniacs' jangle-rock sound. The best description I can come up with is chamber pop. Granted, some of the songs have jazz and folk elements. How much you like this set depends on how much you like Natalie. I got it at a sale price and am not complaining. It is soothing but not compelling. Much of the backing music is gorgeous. The little hardback booklet is quite nice with profiles and photos of the poets who were the sources for the lyrics.
ManningtonPhil More than 1 year ago
Heard an interview on Public Radio and was impressed. I had forgotten that Natalie Merchant sang with the 10,000 Maniacs. Purchase the double CD package and have been playing it every day. Even read and played some of the pieces to 3 of my young grandchildren. My wife also loves this. Anyone who loves poetry should buy this. Anyone who loves music should buy this. Anyone who loves children should buy this for them and then read other similar pieces to them. Did I say my wife loved this - we don't always agree on music but we do on this. Marvelous is too mild a word. Even the darkerside of some of these pieces seem gorgeous in this presentation. Very well done. Mannington Phil
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KennyC2000 More than 1 year ago
Natalie may have been better off remaining asleep. She has a wonderful voice, but this new material does not have nearly the commercial appeal of her past material. It is the type of music one might share with his or her children around the house, with few of the songs having the potential of becoming family favories. Natalie was obviously inspired to write these songs, but I think the audience appeal will be limited. She is a very talented artist, however, and I admire her ambitions to go with what she believes in. I hope I'm wrong in my predictions for this CD and certainly wish Natalie success and happiness in her personal and professional life!
ThoughtfullyYours More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely ambitious album, pulled off with delicious wit and grace. Natalie deserves every accolade she will receive. My ears are happy.
LJB-1 More than 1 year ago
Natalie's long awaited CD is certainly worth the wait. Full featured from the first track to the last. It is a rich mixture of music done perfectly. Her writing and arrangements are top notch. I would be hard pressed to say what my favorite track is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We've just listened to the 2-disc set all the way through, and are listening again with the accompanying liner notes. What a beautiful, eclectic mix Ms. merchant has created. Her voice is stronger and more soulful and spirited than ever. I will buy this for everyone on my gift list this year, for any occasion. This is music to share, and bound to be counted as one of the best albums of the year.
melleit More than 1 year ago
I want to buy a copy for everyone I know. So much fun, I don't mind my commute anymore! So hard to describe I could not do it justice. Thank you Natalie, for a truly poetic masterpiece!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this CD after hearing an interview with the artist and a few samplings of a couple of songs on a radio program. I thought my grandson, who is 1 yr. old, might like it but there are only a handful of songs that I really feel he would enjoy. It is a 2 CD set and comes with a "book" with information on the poems used and the authors; very nice! The songs and tunes are fun and a great change of pace from most of the music out today. Some of it is what I would describe as folk tunes but she has also included reggae and jazz. A great buy!
NelNYC More than 1 year ago
I heard about this album on a radio interview with Natalie Merchant. She played a couple the songs from the disc live. It was very impressive so I ordered a copy right away. When I received the CD, the quality of the whole package (book and notes) was again impressive but what took my breath away was the quality not only of the material but of the recording itself. If you have a decent system, this recording will make it shine as well as make you smile. Back to the material, it varies nicely with a consistency that is never jarring but rather inviting. When a song is finished, you wonder what will happen next ?(like a good book!) Perhaps that is how I would describe the feeling I have when I listen to these disc, I am in a state of wonderment. It was said it took 7 years for Ms Merchant to come out with this concept. It was well worth the wait.
ApalmNapalm8 More than 1 year ago
Every song on the album has its own flavor and message, and the 80-page book built into the CD packaging only enhances each song with explanations of its origin. From Nursery Rhymes to discussions with her daughter, Natalie Merchant weaves a tale of childhood that sparks the imagination and rejuvenates the soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Natalie Merchant has always had a compelling voice, but sometimes with earlier recordings that voice got a little bit lost in the arrangements. Her new album is a 2-CD set of quirky poems & nursery rhymes set to all sorts of music: classical, folk, jazz, rock, reggae. It's really wonderful, and that amazing voice is front and center. The tones range all over the map, from dreamy to brassy and yet the album seems like a seamless whole. A real treat is the beautiful packaging, complete with very detailed liner notes by Merchant on each poem that she set to music. Don't be tempted by the single-CD abbreviated version also on sale. It's well worth getting the complete, 2 disc version.
Ellen51 More than 1 year ago
Natalie's voice is as profound as ever and easy on the ears, but the arrangements had too many fiddles for me. I prefer her love songs and life songs.
Margaret50 More than 1 year ago
From the poems to the melodies to the stellar musical accompanists to the accompanying pocket-size book, this record is a treasure trove! Leave Your Sleep is a collection of Victorian era (for the most part) poems set to fabulous and varied arrangements. Ms. Merchant offers this 2 CD set with an accompanying book that includes the poem, a short write-up and photograph of the poet, and the stellar list of musicians/artists involved on each track. The musical arrangements are rich and thematically varied including a Topsyturvey-world to a reggae beat, a frolicking sea shanty of a Walloping Window Blind, a New Orleans jazzy Janitor's Boy, a bluesy Peppery Man, and a soaring Land of Nod that is so developed musically it could be the score to a full length motion picture. And that just touches the surface. Finally, this is a children's album for adults and an adult album for children. This CD is our current choice for car music and with my athletic ten year old singing along and engaging in car conversations about poetry and musical styles and the Indian names of U.S. waterways, all is right with the world! I recommend this for yourself your family and everyone on your gift list!
dried_squid More than 1 year ago
The Editorial Review introduces the musical content better than I can. This purchase was a most pleasant surprise. I purchased after seeing an interview on TV. Children's poetry into musical compositions? Why not? I'm more into classical and jazz from the '50's through the '80's, and I had no prior experience with Natalie Merchant's work. Packaging and liner notes. Before I even heard a cut, I was impressed. Take off the shrink-wrap, and out slides a nifty little bound book. Inside the book, at front and back, are two pages as sleeves for the CDs. Between are pages of liner notes. Following Natalie Merchant's Introduction is her research on each poem and the poet. With pictures. Shades of vinyl. I was so taken by the presentation, I read before I began listening to the songs. Not everything, but about three or four. Also in the book, at the back under Credits, are listed, by track, arrangers and musicians, ie. contributing artists. After listening to the two CDs (more than once), and drifting through the histories, purchased a second as a gift. Both purchases were at $24.99. It's worth it. This was a labor of love. It shows. Thanks Natalie Merchant.
EdNY More than 1 year ago
Natalie Merchant has put music to 26 poems most of us have probably never heard of. That's great. It broadens our horizons. The poems are primarily children's poems because, as Ms. Merchant says in the liner notes, this album originated as a gift to her daughter. The music as well as the poems are wonderful. The music crosses all genres. The poems are wonderful. The liner notes includes biographies and photos of each poet, so they are humanized instead of abstract people with no face. I knew vritually nothing of Natalie Merchant prior to this--yeah maybe a 10,000 Maniacs song or two, but now I'm scheduled to see her in concert. I can't recommend this CD enough.
ReverendRockabilly More than 1 year ago
Natalie Merchant does it again with Leave Your Sleep. Leave your preconceptions at the door when you listen to these songs as they are not her lyrical creations. With this album Natalie not only interprets the poems individually but uses the fruits of her research on the authors to give her an understanding of the topic and the emotions involved in each piece and then shares that with us in the short book that accompanies the discs. Not only is this album a gift to the listener by letting us hear poems most of us have hardly ever heard spoken, let alone sung, but it is a flattering gift to each an every one of the poets whose work was chosen for this album. The music is both relaxing and fun. I'm very pleased with this album, but must confess that Natalie Merchant has never left me disappointed . . . only wanting more.
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