I can’t say that I was ever a huge fan of Natalie Merchant. Sure I’d heard her music both before and after she was the lead singer for 10,000 Maniacs, but there wasn’t anything about her that explicitly appealed to me.
With Natalie Merchant: VH1 Storytellers, I can’t say that anything changed. Although the material here is quite good, there’s precious little of it and I was disappointed when compared to other episodes of VH1 Storytellers.
The premise of this show is that singer and songwriter Natalie Merchant performs seven of her personal favorite songs to a small audience at the Manhattan Center in New York City. As soon as I looked at the set listing, I wondered how these seven tracks would manage to occupy an entire hour.
The stories are pretty self-evident if you’ve ever listened to the lyrics of her songs. Carnival was her way of seeing New York City when she lived there. What’s the Matter Here? was about child abuse and the story she tells will bring a tear to your eye. It’s not a matter of the songs aren’t good nor are her stories. It’s just that there’s so little of it to appreciate.
The performance itself is quite good as she sits at the piano and sings. Her voice carries quite well and seems no different from how her albums sound. It’s nice to hear an artist who doesn’t need a lot of heavy production to make her sound good or get drowned out by the backup vocalists.
The DVD has a couple of extra tracks including the full version of These Are Days which she opens with but never really talks about as well as the track Life Is Sweet.
If you’re already a fan of Natalie Merchant, then I think you’ll really enjoy Natalie Merchant: VH1 Storytellers. For those of us who aren’t huge fans, I can’t say that anything here swayed me to appreciate her more. She’s a sine musician and songwriter who packs a lot of emotion and meaning into her songs. This is a good concert, I just wish there were more songs here.
These Are Days
What’s the Matter Here?
Kind and Generous
Break Your Heart
Bonus Track – These Are The Days
Bonus Track – Life is Sweet