Today, Natalie Merchant unveils a new video for her latest single “Come On, Aphrodite”—watch here. Filmed in Brooklyn, New York, the new video is directed by Matthew Shattuck (Foo Fighters, John Legend) and edited by Andrew Pulaski (Joey Bada$$, A$AP Ferg).
Of the song, Merchant says, “‘Come on, Aphrodite’ is an invocation to the goddess of love and passion. In the lyrics, I list all the clichés we use to describe falling in love: being drunk and blind, over the moon, weak in the knees, and half out of our minds. For the Greeks, when the spirit of love descended, it was seen as a kind of assault; you would become powerless against an all-consuming, sweet madness. Amazingly, humans still crave it, in spite of the perils.”
“Come On, Aphrodite”—named an “emotive, passionate track” by American Songwriter—is taken from Merchant’s forthcoming album, Keep Your Courage, set for release on April 14 on Nonesuch Records. In the words of Uncut, “‘Keep Your Courage,’ almost a decade in the making, finds Merchant as witty and welcoming as always, turning her gaze to what helps us endure life’s ups and downs.” The song features Abena Koomson-Davis (Resistance Revival Chorus) and establishes the record’s themes of love and passion as essential to the human experience. Pre-save/pre-order the forthcoming album here.
“I was completely taken by [Abena’s] personality, her voice, and the mission of the chorus,” says Merchant. “I invited Abena to sing at Radio City Music Hall for a telecast to thank healthcare workers impacted by Covid. At that event, I promised we would make a record together, definitely. I hadn’t even written the songs, but I loved the way that our voices blended and wanted us to sing together.”
In celebration of the new music, Merchant will embark upon an extensive tour this spring, going into the fall. Today, she confirms a run of dates across Europe which will be on sale Friday, March 24—see below for full tour routing.
Produced by Merchant, Keep Your Courage is the artist’s ninth solo studio album, and the latest new material since 2014’s self-titled record. The eclectic album features additional contributions from Celtic folk group Lúnasa, Syrian virtuoso clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and jazz trombonist Steve Davis. There are lush orchestrations by seven composers throughout,including: Gabriel Kahane, Stephen Barber, Colin Jacobsen, and Megan Gould. The new record comprises nine original songs by Merchant as well as an interpretation of “Hunting the Wren” by Ian Lynch of the Irish band Lankum. The vinyl LP edition includes four bonus tracks from earlier albums, previously unreleased on vinyl.
Natalie Merchant and Nonesuch Store pre-orders include access to an exclusive virtual pre-release listening event on April 6 via FlyMachine, featuring songs from the new album and a conversation between Natalie Merchant and Carmel Holt. Further details will be sent prior to the event. A link and unique access code will be sent on April 5. Re-stream access will be available for 72 hours.
Merchant writes in her album’s liner notes, “The songs contained within this album were written and recorded during the pandemic ... a period of great flux and fear on every level ... but this is not an album about the coronavirus or the chaos it caused. For the most part, this is an album about the human heart.” She continues, “The word ‘courage’ has its root in the Latin word for heart, cor, and we see it over and over in many languages: le coeur, il cuore, o coração, el corazón. This is a song cycle that maps the journey of a courageous heart.”
Over her forty-year career, Natalie Merchant has attained a place among America’s most respected recording artists. She has earned a reputation for being a songwriter of quality and a captivating stage performer and has distinguished herself as a social justice and environmental activist. Merchant began her musical career as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop music band 10,000 Maniacs and released six albums—including one platinum, two double-platinum, and one triple-platinum records—with the group: The Wishing Chair (1985), In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man's Zoo (1989), Hope Chest(1990), Our Time in Eden (1992), and 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged (1993). Merchant left the band in 1994 and has subsequently released nine albums as a solo artist with combined sales of seven million copies: Tigerlily (1995), Ophelia(1998), Natalie Merchant Live (1999), Motherland (2001), The House Carpenter’s Daughter (2003), Leave Your Sleep(2010), Natalie Merchant (2014), Paradise Is There (2015), and Butterfly (2017).
Merchant has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Billy Bragg, Gavin Bryars, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mavis Staples, REM, and Wilco. She served on the New York State Council on the Arts from 2007–2011 at the appointment of Governor Elliot Spitzer and was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center by New York State Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Merchant’s awards include: The Library Lion Award from the New York Public Library (2011), The American Society of Authors Composers & Publishers (ASCAP) Champion Award (2019), and The John Lennon Real Love Award (2019). More information about Merchant’s career and philanthropic work may be found here.
Natalie Merchant Tour
April 14—Poughkeepsie, NY—Bardavon, 1869 Opera House†
April 15—Poughkeepsie, NY—Bardavon, 1869 Opera House†
April 18—Pittsburgh, PA—Byham Theater
April 19—Charlottesville, VA—The Paramount Theater†
April 21—Philadelphia, PA—Kimmel Cultural Campus
April 22—Hershey, PA—The Hershey Theatre
April 24—Greenville, SC—Peace Center Concert Hall
April 26—Clearwater, FL—Ruth Eckerd Hall
April 27—Fort Lauderdale, FL—with The South Florida Symphony Orchestra
Au-Rene Theater - Broward Center for the Performing Arts**
April 28—St. Augustine, FL—The Saint Augustine Amphitheatre
April 30—Atlanta, GA—with The Atlanta Symphony at Atlanta Symphony Hall**†
May 9—Portland, ME—Merrill Auditorium
May 10—Boston, MA—Emerson Colonial Theatre†
May 11—Boston, MA—Emerson Colonial Theatre
May 13—Cleveland, OH—Keybank State Theatre
May 14—Cincinnati, OH—Taft Theatre
May 16—Carmel, IN—The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts
May 17—Ann Arbor, MI—Michigan Theater
May 19—Chicago, IL—Chicago Theatre
May 20—Milwaukee, WI—The Pabst Theater
June 2–3—New York, NY—Lincoln Center for the
Performing Arts—Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center**
June 25—Newark, NJ—New Jersey Performing Arts Center**
June 28—Providence, RI—Veterans Memorial Auditorium**
June 30—Washington, DC—John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts**
July 1—Washington, DC—John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts**
July 8—Chautauqua, NY—Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater**
September 20—Spokane, WA—Martin Woldson Theatre at The Fox
September 22—Seattle, WA—Venue TBA*
September 23—Portland, OR—Keller Auditorium
September 26—San Francisco, CA—The Masonic
September 27—Saratoga, CA—The Mountain Winery*
September 29—San Diego, CA—Humphrey’s†
September 30—Los Angeles, CA—Walt Disney Concert Hall
November 2—London, UK—London Palladium‡
November 3—London, UK—London Palladium‡
November 5—Glasgow, UK—Glasgow Royal Concert Hall‡
November 6—Manchester, UK—O2 Apollo Manchester‡
November 8—Dublin, IE—Olympia‡
November 11—Bath, UK—The Forum‡
November 13—Amsterdam, NL—Carré Theatre‡
November 14—Brussels, BE—Cirque Royal‡
*On-sale timing TBA
**With symphony orchestra
‡On-sale March 24