Motherlandby Natalie Merchant
Teaming up with T-Bone Burnett was a good, healthy move for Natalie Merchant. She had begun to sink into vaguely tuneless singer/songwriterisms with her second solo album, Ophelia, and the sag in artistic quality was notable -- which may have been why she bought time with a live album in 1999. Burnett helps restore some musical backbone to her music on Motherland, even if the record is hardly a gritty affair (apart from Merchant's voice, which seems to have deepened and grown tougher since the last time out). Still, there's some character within the sound -- atmospheric, blues post-folk-rock, music that breathes -- not nearly as precious as Tigerlily or any of the 10,000 Maniacs' records, for that matter, while retaining Merchant's signature sound. Upon first listen, none of the songs announce themselves, yet it all sticks together, and repeated plays reveal Motherland as a subtle grower that will satisfy her large cult.
- Release Date:
- Elektra / Wea
Performance CreditsNatalie Merchant Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals,fender rhodes
Van Dyke Parks Accordion
Guy Klucevsek Accordion
Stephen Barber Conductor
Matt Chamberlain Percussion,Drums
Karen Dreyfus Viola
Mitch Estrin Bass Clarinet
Bob Glaub Bass
Tony Kadleck Trumpet
David Krakauer Clarinet
Greg Leisz Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Mandolin,12-string Guitar
Graham Maby Bass
Phillip Myers French Horn
Sandra Park Violin
David Ralicke Trombone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Laura Seaton Violin
Mavis Staples Vocals
Patrick Warren chamberlain,Pump Organ
Erik Della Penna Banjo,Electric Guitar,Oud,Classical Guitar,Bazouki,Lap Steel Guitar
Mike Elizondo Bass
Ann Kim Violin
Sara Selver Cello
Sharon Yamada Violin
Karen Marks Violin
Bruno Eicher Violin
Gabriel Gordon Electric Guitar,E-bow
Elizabeth Dyson Cello
Lisa Kim Violin
Fiona Simon Violin
Sandra Church Alto Flute
Nick Cords Viola
Katie Daley Voices
Kelly Daley Voices
Vivek Kamath Viola
Krystof Kuznik Violin
Jeremy McCoy Bass
Elizabeth Steen Mellotron
Jung Sun Yoo Violin
Robert Shaw Violin
Alan Stepansky Cello
Soohyun Kwon Violin
Technical CreditsStephen Barber Arranger
T Bone Burnett Producer
Natalie Merchant Producer
Sandra Park String Contractor
Jim Scott Engineer
Mike Piersante Engineer
Paul Ackling Guitar Techician
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Since 1981, Natalie Merchant has been blessing us with her beautiful voice and inspiring lyrics. Now, at the age of 38, Natalie has created a true masterpiece. This album is so hard to describe, as it's so amazing that there are not enough words to describe it. The album's opener, ''This House is on Fire'', has a Middle Eastern flare while the album's closer, ''I'm Not Gonna Beg'', is a mainly piano ballad about begging for love (I know that sounds silly but the song is actually quite touching). Natalie's voice has never been so beautiful and strong and her voice is reason enough to buy the album. Longtime Natalie fans will enjoy this, but this is definately not for someone who enjoys listening to top 40 nonsense.
For me, Motherland was a long-anticipated release. Even though Natalie Merchant was touring constantly, including to support the live album she released after Ophelia, there is always the yearning for something new from her. Motherland is nothing less than what I expected... and so much more. I've been following Miss Merchant for about 14 years, from her 10,000 Maniacs days up to now. Of everything she's done that I've heard to date, I find this album to be the most fluid. You know what I mean? You can put it in the CD player and you're not even tempted to skip a song. One of my main reasons for following Miss Merchant is her lyrics. In Motherland, her storytelling voice is subtly pointed, and executed like when your best friend is giving you advice: whether you asked for it or not. Congratulations, Miss Merchant, on another accomplishment. More importantly, thank you for coming through again!
This is one smooth album. I enjoyed the string arrangements and as always the expressive vocals. But it never kicks up the cyclone of sentimental feel good that some of her albums have generated. Neither does it rock you to the bone like her live album did! But all in all, it is worth the time and bucks for she again says something worth listening to!
I'm only writing this for those of you who haven't experienced Natalie Merchant yet. This release like everything else she has ever done is right up there with the best that music has to offer. Not a lot of you have heard her stuff cause, let's face it, she's not the most popular singer in the world and her albums don't sell that many copies. But she consistantly out does everyone that is more popular and that may always sell a boatload of copies. Just get the album and listen to it and if you don't like it then go listen to NSync or Britney Spears cause Natlaie Merchant obviously isn't for you.
I did not think it possible to top her last two albums, ''Tigerlily'' and ''Ophelia'', however I was proved wrong. This is album is full of diverse songs and moving lyrics. Natile Merchant has truly blossomed since her departure from 10,000 Maniacs. All praises for her artistic efforts!
Motherland has just a chilling feel to it. Not in a bad way, though! It's so awesome to hear such a powerful voice teamed with deep lyrics and intense instrumentals. Bottom line... This is an awesome album.
I really don't even know what to say...Natalie Merchant has taken a great leap in her artistry through her release of Motherland. From the open ''This House is On Fire'' with it's Arabic influences to the ending Aretha Franklin-esque ''I'm not Gonna Beg'' the listener is never, ever let down. I know in the past Natlie has been known as the 10,000 Maniac front woman, but now she has been on her own for almost ten years and she is still an amazing asset to the music industry. Her music is incredibly touching and profound. She says things I never thought anyone else really thought about...it's comforting. Lyrics dealing with the death of love, the pains of idolism, and encouraging the listener that even she know ''it just can't last'' through her first single from the album. I thought her Tigerlily release was her best work until now, she brings back a lot of her 10,000 Maniac folkish sounds while embarking into her own terain. What a Woman! She really desrerves much more recognition then she gets, jeez, even David Letterman asked her to come back for a second night in a row! That's got something to say in itself! I know many critics keep looking at her art for what it isn't (10,000 Maniac/Pop goddess)it's time to look at it for what it is, genuine and intriguing. It'll Grow On You!!!
This album helped me stay strong to get out of a brutal marriage. Even 5 years after it's a kick of energy.
Just downloaded the track 'Motherland' ... a great song ... love that moment when you first hear a classic ... the moment I first heard the Replacement's 'Dissatisfied' ... Husker Du's 'Celebrated Summer' ... the Clash's 'London Calling' ... 'Motherland' reminds me of early Dylan/Baez ... folky ... spare ... musically light ... floating ... but heavy with content ... a great song ...
As someone who warmed to Natalie very slowly, this album sat in my backseat for over a year until I put it into my cd player. It has been in my cd player at home, at work and in my car for three months straight now. I need to buy three copies so I don't have to keep moving it! While her lyrics are powerful, her voice resonates with a far greater power and depth. Her previous album - Ophelia - had been playing over and over in my car, having taken a while for me to fully enjoy that cd also. The album, each song after the other - takes patience to receive and enjoy as a whole. It may take a while - but it's worth the repeat listenings when you finally slide into the atmosphere Natalie Merchant creates.
I saw a letter that Natalie wrote on a George Harrison fan-site. It is wonderful to hear how much Natalie was affected by George's music. You can definitely hear the influence on MOTHERLAND. I love how this album can somehow be dark & positive at the same time. In my opinion, it is her best album yet.
I was given this CD as a gift, and played it as soon as I could. It's different than Natalie Merchant's other album I have- Tigerlily- but also just as good, in a different way. The music gave me a western feel, something I've never really heard before, but enjoyed nevertheless. Her voice is the same in that it is still powerful yet quiet, and the music has the same sound while being completely different. It's hard to explain, but the album seemed like more of Tigerlily, but at the same time something that sounded like an album by another artist. The music has the same backup/accompiant feel, yet it was still a huge part of the song. I was impressed. Let's just say I'm ever-grateful to the person who gave me this fantastic album.
I've been a Natalie fan since early Maniac's days. After several listens I can honestly say that Motherland is her strongest grouping of songs to date. All the songs are very fluid and carry you onto the next one. I've just seen her live for the third time and the Motherland songs sound even better live while she dances to them! There's nothing like her.
In Motherland, Natalie is at her best and most musically and thematically versatile. Natalie mourns, scorns, helps, and gives hope in these twelve tracks. The music is just so gorgeous- she blends folk, rock, pop, soul, a little Spanish, and a little Middle Eastern music to create hauntingly beautiful art that can be enjoyed by anyone who willingly listens to these songs. Highly recommended- one of the best albums released this year.