CD The House Carpenter's Daughter (CD 1081876),
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The House Carpenter's Daughter

  • 1. Sally Ann
    2. Which Side Are You On?
    3. Crazy Man Michael
    4. Diver Boy
    5. Weeping Pilgrim
    6. Soldier, Soldier
    7. Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow
    8. House Carpenter
    9. Owensboro
    10. Down on Penny's Farm
    11. Poor Wayfaring Stranger

    Code: QZZQ

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 1026

  • Credits
    ProducerNatalie Merchant
    EngineerTod Vos; George Cowan; Todd Vos

    Personnel: Natalie Merchant (vocals); Erik Della Penna (guitar, lap steel); Gabriel Gordon (guitar); Richie Stearns (banjo); Judy Hyman (fiddle); Elizabeth Steen (accordion, piano, organ); Allison Miller (drums); The Menfolk (background vocals).
    Recorded at Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, New York. Includes liner notes by Natalie Merchant.
    Personnel: Natalie Merchant (vocals); Erik Della Penna (guitar, lap steel guitar); Gabriel Gordon (guitar); Richie Stearns (banjo); Judy Hyman (violin, fiddle); Elizabeth Steen (accordion, piano, organ); Allison Miller (drums).
    Audio Mixer: Todd Vos.
    Liner Note Author: Natalie Merchant.
    Recording information: Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, NY.
    Arranger: Natalie Merchant.
    Striving to preserve the kinds of songs that "teach us about what we know in our hearts," Natalie Merchant presents here 11 songs of traditional and contemporary folk music. Merchant's handpicked song choices run the gamut of the 20th century, with seven traditional tunes and four covers. The covers are an eclectic mix: the Waterboys-esque Horseflies song "Sally Ann" (ex-Horseflies Judy Hyman and Richie Stearns provide violin and banjo throughout the album), Florence Reece's coalminer hymn "Which Side Are You On?," Fairport Convention's gothic parable "Crazy Man Michael," and the Carter Family's love-lost weeper "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow." From the track listing, one would expect a somber blend of acoustic instruments and dreamy vocals, but Merchant and company kick out the folk jams more often than not, and Merchant's bright production and energetic arrangements keep the pace lively. As befits the preservational nature of the project, Merchant's annotated liner notes give rhyme and reason to each selection. Reading about the harrowing genesis of "Which Side Are You On?" adds a wealth of poignancy and power to its message. But that's not to suggest that The House Carpenter's Daughter is an overly academic work, as the material varies enough in theme, tone, and rhythm as much as any of Merchant's preceding solo endeavors. Indeed it's actually quite refreshing to hear Merchant's voice consistently wrapped around a bold pedal steel guitar, a weeping fiddle, a rolling banjo, and gentle accordion undertones. Those weary of the traditional nature of the album needn't worry much, as rock textures hover around many a corner, percolating violently on "Diver Boy" before exploding fully on the humorous jumping-rope song "Soldier, Soldier." At turns slow, hazy, and beautiful and at other turns bounding with folk hoedowns, The House Carpenter's Daughter is a delightful exploration of Merchant's folk inspirations. Whether a listener is a folk newcomer or a die-hard folkie, or even a Merchant fanatic or not, this is an album bursting with delights. It proves Merchant's liner-notes theories about the power of folk music again and again. ~ Tim DiGravina

  • Critic Reviews
    Uncut (9/03, p.112) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Merchant's rich, expressive voice is imbued with all the awe, dread and authority the material requires..."
    Mojo (Publisher) (9/03, p.111) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...THE HOUSE CARPENTER'S DAUGHTER is clearly a labour of love....The traditions that birthed these songs may be dying but, as Merchant subtly underlines, their politics are timeless..."
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