Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 62

Cougar Comics Online
Game Review: Final Fantasy Anthology

The Wrestling Report

Album Review: Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Movie Review: The Messenger


About the Cougar

Merchant blooms on live set, but could benefit from happier songs

Live in Concert

Natalie Merchant
Elektra Records
11 songs, 60 mins.


By Isabella So
Daily Cougar Staff 

Never been a big fan of Natalie Merchant's? That's OK. You don't need to be a Merchant fan to enjoy her live album.

Live in Concert is Merchant's first live album, featuring the highlights of her five sold-out performances in New York at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Natalie Merchant has put together an impressive live set, even for new fans.

Peggy Sirota/Elektra Records

This is a collection of her best hits and covers from celebrated artists like David Bowie. The covers are rich with instrumentation and layered with her harmonious yet distinct vocals.

Her songs are extremely effective to listeners when she is singing about life's hardships, which is the bulk of her material. The elderly widower in "Beloved Wife," the desperately poor mother in "Dust Bowl" and the lost astronaut in " Space Oddity" are just some of the topics she discusses on the album.

Merchant invites you first to "Wonder" about you being "one of the wonders of God's own creations."

She is, in fact, one of those wonders, with her impeccable sultry voice that can soothe any turbulence and put it at ease.

Merchant then speaks of going west to eat "milk and honey over there," with "there" symbolizing paradise.

It's with such sweet sorrow in her vocals that she also sings of building a dream and "watching it all fall down with the San Andreas Fault." But within this despair, never fear: There is still a promised land of paradise somewhere for you.

Her next song is the sad ballad of a widower living without his "Beloved Wife." You can feel the sadness and awful hopelessness of never finding someone to love again.

She then tries her hand in covering David Bowie's " Space Oddity" and does a wonderful job, singing with such sweetness and yet an edge of turmoil and pain.

The live album also includes her hit song "Carnival," which is the only uplifting song on the album and strategically placed in the middle of the CD. Most of the songs are very mellow, and are each touched by a sweet depression.

Merchant also sings "After the Gold Rush," a cover of the Neil Young song, followed by "Ophelia" and "Seven Years," which can be found on her latest studio album, Ophelia.

Merchant is very committed to her work and is very generous with the profits from her concerts, which she is donating to groups such as the Association to Benefit Children.

Her actions prove she is really down to earth. That in itself is one of Merchant's problems. Despite their effectiveness, too many of Merchant's songs are very depressing and mellow. She has one of those voices that can calm anything and bring a person back to earth, but can also become tedious.

This is not a bad thing, as long as you don't listen to her over and over again.

This album is a showcase of Natalie Merchant's blooming live talent.

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