The deluxe limited edition of Natalie Merchant’s Retrospective 1990-2005
is a two-disc collection of gems from her solo albums along with a selection of B-sides, collaborations, and other rarities. It’s a very impressive and extensive body of work considering the relatively small span of time it represents. The two CDs are packaged in small booklet of artful photographs of Merchant with insightful blurbs about each individual track.
From Natalie’s first solo album, Tigerlilly, we have the infectious “Wonder”, “Carnival” (featuring guest vocals by Katell Keineg), “Jealousy”, the lovely earthquake ode “San Andreas Fault”, and an alternate full band version of the dusty love song “Cowboy Romance” that was an outtake from The House Carpenter’s Daughter sessions.
Taken from her second solo release, Ophelia, are the appreciative “Kind & Generous”, “Break Your Heart” (with Chris Botti on trumpet), the encouraging “Life is Sweet”, the suicidal “The Living”, and a moody outtake called “She Devil”. Merchant also recorded a new piano version of “Thick As Thieves” for Retrospective.
Selections from the third solo effort, Motherland, are its title track, “Build a Levee” (with vocals by legendary Mavis Staples), and “Not in This Life”. And gleaned from The House Carpenter’s Daughter are “Owensboro” and “Sally Ann”, but unfortunately “Which Side Are You On” was left out. I was also disappointed that the beautifully heartbreaking ballad “Beloved Wife” didn’t make the cut, but I own all of Natalie’s solo CDs so I suppose it doesn’t matter much.
The second disc is mostly composed of Merchant’s contributions to soundtracks, benefit albums, and recordings with other artists. Among them are the traditional tunes “Children Go Where I Send Thee” and The Chieftains collaboration “Lowlands Of Holland”, the title track from the “One Fine Day” soundtrack, the Michael Stipe duet “Photograph”, a musical reworking of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” with Susan McKeown, a cover of the Gershin classic “But Not For Me” with Chris Botti, “I Know How To Do It” with Dr. John and Booker T. & The MGs, and a total of three collaborations with Billy Bragg.
I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can listen to “She Devil” online here
Natalie Merchant’s Official Site
Buy The 2-Disc Limited Edition
Buy The Regular CD