WATCH: Natalie Merchant at the Winspear

My first thought in walking into the Winspear last night was how much of a turnout Natalie Merchant can still bring. Throngs of people were filing in. Her fans clearly have not left her despite the seven years that separate her newest album Leave Your Sleep from April and 2003′s The House Carpenter’s Daughter. However, the audience may have been a bit perplexed about what they were getting.

When Merchant walked out, the applause was enthusiastic. Then she began talking about her album of 26 songs that put various vintage children’s poems to music. With a slideshow of bookplates and authors’ pictures, she started with a trio of slow (and by that I mean slowwwwwwww) songs that were nicely received, but with no signs of her signature hits. Had I missed something? Because it sounded like we were in store for all 26 songs. Eesh.

—  Rich Lopez