Live In Concert

Our rating:

Clearly feeling guilty for living in a time of electric lighting and sterile surgical implements, [a]Natalie Merchant[/a] has always sounded like she would have been happier rolling bandages during th

Clearly feeling guilty for living in a time of electric lighting and sterile surgical implements, [a]Natalie Merchant[/a] has always sounded like she would have been happier rolling bandages during the Civil War, stitching quilts and singing sad songs about cholera. You would have thought that being the former singer of the endlessly worthy and swirling [a]10,000 Maniacs[/a] would have been a heavy enough burden for her to bear, but she isn’t happy unless she’s got the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Recorded in New York this summer, ‘Live In Concert‘ is a fair cross-section of her environmentally concerned, craft fair-friendly career – laments about soldiers and widowers, histrionic empathising with the world’s suffering, and an unlikely cover of ‘Space Oddity‘ (after all, where there’s space travel there’s physics, and where there’s physics, there’s nuclear armageddon). Complete with sycophantic audience noise – Merchant‘s human woodcut charms have always been attractive to men who have a thing about consumption and log cabins – it’s a comprehensive display of her preciously morose vocalising and Lilith Fair moralising.

Yet for a singer who has based a career on an empathy with a sad and, Christ, beautiful world, this is a woefully self-regarding record, earnestness hanging about it like chiffon scarves hung artistically around a student mirror.

Folk art – let’s dance. Barefoot, just like Ophelia.