Natalie Merchant: Paradise Is There

The New Tigerlily Recordings

Album review
Natalie Merchant: Paradise Is There

Natalie Merchant

Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings

Label: Nonesuch
Media: CD
Genre: Rock/pop

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can be solid advice when it comes to revisiting beloved albums. Artists risk tinkering with their classic songs till they’re unrecognizable, or sticking note-for-note to the originals so fans wonder why they bothered. Natalie Merchant avoids both fates on Paradise Is There, a collection of new recordings of the 11 songs from 1995’s Tigerlily. The brainy and bohemian lyrics and catchy beats are still there, but the songs are more lush and expansive, with more nuanced arrangements just different enough to make you take notice. “I May Know the Word” is a little less muddy than the original, with subtle but jazzier percussion. Violins, viola, and cello elevate “Beloved Wife,” “River,” and “The Letter” without overwhelming, while zydeco-infused “Where I Go” adds accordion and a jauntier guitar style. Chart-topper “Carnival” benefits from more restrained playing and smart editing, shaving a full minute off the original. But the biggest change is Merchant’s voice; always strong and clear, her vocals have filled out, and she delivers “Jealousy” and “Wonder” with an ease and confidence that comes with experience. This reissue is a case of “It ain’t broke, but wait till you hear this!”  

More Info

  • primary artist, Natalie Merchant
  • CD

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