NATALIE MERCHANT –  ” Keep Your Courage “

Posted: March 12, 2023 in MUSIC

Natalie Merchant’s 2023 LP has a lot of significance behind it. Not only is it the singer/songwriter’s ninth studio, it is also her first full-length LP since 2014. With a discography full of hits that date back to 1995, Merchant never seems in a rush to release new material so the fact that “Keep Your Courage” will finally be hitting our ears in 2023 is a celebration on its own.

An eclectic album, produced by Merchant, herself it features two duets sung with vocalist Abena Koomson-Davis (Resistance Revival Chorus), contributions from the Celtic folk group Lúnasa and Syrian virtuoso clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, and horn arrangements by jazz trombonist Steve Davis. There are lush orchestrations throughout by seven composers including: Gabriel Kahane, Stephen Barber, Colin Jacobson, and Megan Gould. 

Merchant writes in her album’s liner notes, “The songs contained within this album were written and recorded during the global pandemic that began in the winter of 2019 and is in its fifth wave as I write, in the autumn of 2022. It has been, and continues to be, a period of great flux and fear on every level: global, national, communal, familial, personal. But this is not an album about the coronavirus or the chaos it caused. For the most part, this is an album about the human heart.” She continues: “The word ‘courage’ has its root in the Latin word for heart, cor, and we see it over and over in many languages: le coeur, il cuore, o coração, el corazón. This is a song cycle that maps the journey of a courageous heart.”

“Keep Your Courage” comprises nine original songs by Merchant as well as an interpretation of “Hunting the Wren” by Ian Lynch of the Irish band Lankum. The vinyl LP edition of “Keep Your Courage” includes four bonus tracks from earlier albums, previously unreleased on vinyl. 

With Merchant producing the album on her own and bringing in collaborators from across the globe like the Celtic folk group Lúnasa, who seems to have contributed a lot according to a post on the artist’s website, the sonics used on this album is equally exciting as they are mysterious. For the real Merchant admirers, the vinyl edition of her upcoming album will feature four bonus tracks from earlier Merchant albums that have not been pressed up on wax yet. 

Release Date: April 14th through Nonesuch Records

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