The House Carpenter’s Daughter
Available on her Web site last fall and only recently in stores, Natalie Merchant’s latest album is 100 percent folk music. Of course, most of her previous work could fall into that musical genre, as well—what other genre could fully include songs like “I’m Not the Man” and “Gold Rush Brides”? If you think we don’t need another version of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” you haven’t heard this one. Merchant’s new arrangements of “Which Side Are You On?” and “Down On Penny’s Farm” are revelations of the enduring power of the songs. She’s even reclaimed a lost gem from an 18th-century hymnal. But the true test comes when a classic like the Carter Family’s “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” meets a distinctive, original voice like Merchant’s. It’s all-Americana magic.