Leave Your Sleep


It’s been seven years since the last Natalie Merchant album, and the wait for completely original material continues with no end in sight. Though she’s back penning tunes, the words on this new set are the work of classic English and American poets. In its reverence for e.e. cummings and Robert Louis Stevenson, this feels less like an album and more like a university recital one might attend for extra credit in a sophomore English class. Musically, Merchant does take the opportunity to break out of her adult-contemporary box and explore everything from jazz to reggae to bluegrass. But even after 26 songs and nearly two hours of stylistic exercises, a full emotional connection between artist and audience remains elusive. Leave Your Sleep reveals what’s been on Natalie Merchant’s reading list over the years without offering a clue as to what’s been on her mind. – David Styburski

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