About this Artist
On her beguiling ninth studio album, Keep Your Courage (released April 2023), Natalie Merchant examines love in all its guises. Although the award-winning and multiplatinum-selling singer-songwriter has hardly eschewed love songs in the past, she has never been this immersed in them. By Merchant’s count, she mentions love 26 times across Keep Your Courage. “I think the pandemic was a great period of solitude and longing,” she says by way of one possible explanation for her fixation on matters of the heart. “I craved and savored human connection; it was the only thing that really mattered.”
Keep Your Courage is a sonically disparate and musically sumptuous collection produced by Merchant and recorded in Vermont with trusted collaborators and new friends. Whether it’s delicate chamber pop (“The Feast of Saint Valentine”), horn-driven soul (“Tower of Babel”), Celtic balladry (“Eye of the Storm”), or instantly infectious pop (“Come on, Aphrodite”), the album is anchored by Merchant’s unmistakable voice, whip-smart wordplay, and emotional delivery.
Though this is her first album of all-new, original material in nine years, Merchant has been anything but idle in that time. In addition to raising her daughter, she has tackled several projects in the last decade, among them: rearranging her songs for string quintet and acoustic instruments for the album and documentary Paradise Is There; directing Shelter: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence; curating the 10-disc box set The Natalie Merchant Collection; and somehow, for two years, finding time four days a week to work with children as an artist-in-residence with a local nonprofit preschool. She explains, “I felt like it was part of my job as a mother to be an example of someone who’s engaged in the community.” In November 2022, Merchant was appointed to a six-year term on the board of trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.