Natalie Merchant released her first solo album in nine years this week, a collection of tunes adapted from 19th to 20th century poetry, both American and British, about childhood according to Gather News Leave Your Sleep was released on Tuesday via Nonsuch Records, and is two discs worth of musical adaptations.  The poets “covered” include Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Graves, Ogden Nash and Christina Rossetti.

Speaking to Billboard, Merchant said:

“I’ve also been really intrigued about setting other people’s words to music, rather than my own… At that point my kid was already five years old and was asking questions like, ‘What happens when we die?’ I wanted to be able to answer those questions musically.”

Further, she states that it was Nonsuch that insisted upon a double album, telling her “that you’d basically get one chance to talk about this project and have people listen, so you might as well put it all out at once.”  Because if there’s one thing the record-buying public (assuming there is still a public that actually buys records) loves, it’s turn-of-the-century poetry broken down into nearly thirty songs by the 10,000 Maniacs singer.  Well played, Nonsuch, well played.

The 26-track album is available now, and features a staggering 130 musicians spread over its 26 tracks, which is admittedly kind of cool.

What do you think of the concept behind Natalie Merchant’s newest album?