Inside the slip case of Natalie Merchant's second
post-10,000 Maniacs outing, she poses in a series of retro-looking glamour shots in which
she is playing a different character. We get Natalie as glamourpuss, librarian, gun moll,
nun, circus girl, olympic athlete and junkie.
The obvious conceit of the packaging is that
we are going to see all sorts of conflicting and surprising views of who and what Merchant
is. Too bad the album itself doesn't live up to this promise.
Continuing in the same
direction as her other solo album Tigerlily, the solo Merchant seems a lot less
immediately likable or interesting than when she fronted the Maniacs. The barbed irony
that she used in her old group seems to have been replaced by an openhearted belief in
human nature... which is not such a good thing. The guy that the treacly single "Kind
& Generous" revolves around would have ten years ago been a wife beater or at the
very least would have gotten her pregnant.
Musically, this album is a step up from the
last solo album, but Merchant still really has not come close as a solo artist to her work
in a group. (7/98)