Style: A complete genre mash-up, dropping any trace of familiar Merchant

Top tracks: "The Peppery Man" "Topsyturvey-World" and "Indian Names"

Before the rise of popular music, songwriters frequently used existing poetry as the lyrical content of their music, but rarely do we see it done these days. This lost art has been revived by singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant on her first new album in seven years. Merchant chose poems for this CD because she wanted to experiment musically; each poem created a different mood, and therefore required a different sound.

Merchant calls Leave Your Sleep "the most elaborate project I have ever completed or even imagined. Nearly seven years ago I set out to create a piece of work I hoped could capture the universal experience of childhood through poetry and music." She tackles an extraordinary range of styles on this 2-disc, 26-song compilation, including folk, Celtic, R&B, jazz, chamber music, and even traditional Chinese.

Merchant's poetry choices span from British Victorians, to early- and mid-20th century America writers, to contemporary poets; the most well-known are Ogden Nash, E.E. Cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Edward Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Robert Graves. Merchant spent five years researching and writing for the album, reading biographies of the poets, searching archives, contacted heirs, executors, or the poets themselves in what she says was "an attempt to know more about my co-writers." An 80-page booklet that comes with the album gives more details on the poets and Merchant's research.

Collaborating with more than 100 musicians—including The Wynton Marsalis Quintet, The Klezmatics, and members of the New York Philharmonic—in a recording ...

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Leave Your Sleep
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Release Date
April 1, 2010
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