Daily Song Study

Natalie Merchant – Motherland

In songs on July 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Timing can sometimes be everything.

Merchant has received flak for some of this album’s charged political content, the contention being that as it was released right after 9/11, she was making money from the victims’ misery. This flies in the face of reason in two ways:

Firstly, the recording for the album was concluded two days before the attacks.

Secondly, in both her solo work and with 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant has consistently taken on controversial topics. If anything, the fact that songs written before that fateful day would seem relevant to those events means that the issues she addresses have been there for quite some time, and were merely waiting for a massive brushfire to flare them up.

Kerfuffle aside, the song is gorgeous. Her voice continues to gain more depth the older she gets, which bodes well for the future. T-Bone Burnett’s production on this certainly accentuates its power, as it does everything he works on. It exemplifies the power of minimalism amid complexity.


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