Sound Advice: Natalie Merchant Celebrates First New Album in Nearly a Decade with Tour that Includes Stop in Cincinnati

On April 14, Merchant dropped Keep Your Courage, her first album of new music in a long, long while.

click to enlarge Natalie Merchant - Photo: Justin Higuchi, Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Justin Higuchi, Wikimedia Commons
Natalie Merchant

This story is featured in CityBeat's May 3 print edition.

It’s been nearly a decade since music fans have been able to enjoy new music from Natalie Merchant, but the time has finally come. On April 14, Merchant dropped Keep Your Courage, her first album of new music in a long, long while. Now she’s embarking on U.S. and European tours, during which she’ll make a stop at Taft Theatre.

Between her time in 10,000 Maniacs and her lauded solo career, Merchant has spent 40 years in the spotlight. One of her biggest singles, “Wonder” off her debut solo album, Tigerlily, from 1995, even broke the Billboard Top 20. Since then, Merchant has remained relatively under the radar, though still followed by a loyal fanbase. 

Her new album, 10 years in the making, was mostly written during the pandemic. Though, in the liner notes for Keep Your Courage, she writes that it’s, “...not an album about the coronavirus or the chaos it caused. For the most part, this is an album about the human heart.” Merchant used the album as a chance to share new names and sounds with her audience, too. The album features Celtic folk group Lúnasa and Syrian virtuoso clarinetist Kinan Azmeh. 

Her tender voice and heartfelt lyricism remain constant across her career and her new album. 

Natalie Merchant plays Taft Theatre at 8 p.m. May 14. Doors open at 7 p.m. Info:

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