Paradise is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings ★★★ Nonesuch
“Songs have new life breathed into them every time they are sung,” says Natalie Merchant. “Time has changed them as much as it has changed me.” That is the premise behind her rerecording of her 20-year-old debut album, Tigerlily. While a recording is a moment in time subject to the vagaries of popular culture, Tigerlily has lost little of its brooding power. And yet this new collection has value. In 1995, Merchant was still young, keen to establish her own voice after 12 years with 10,000 Maniacs. The 2015 version is seasoned by life’s vicissitudes, including divorce and motherhood. Some arrangements are laden with strings, others simplified, recognisable but different. The same goes for Merchant’s voice, deeper, shaped by experience but still distinctive and beautiful. Fascinating for the fan, but not essential.