Revisiting Alt-Rock/Folk chanteuse Natalie Merchant’s 1995 classic solo début ‘Tigerlily‘ conjures up a plethora of unexpected, mostly great memories of growing up.
20 years since its début, the album still sounds remarkably refreshing and soulful – a prime example of how an understated production with restrained, subtle and rather solemn vocals easily stands the test of time. Released at the height of the Alt-Rock-Folk female singer-songwriters’ takeover of mainstream radio around the mid 90’s with Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Courtney Love charting up some of the biggest hits of the 90’s – the 10,000 Maniacs front-woman’s ‘Tigerlily‘ easily stood out in the crowd.
As compared to Amos and Apple – I found their productions to be a tad forced, and occasionally brash – Merchant’s style was rather controlled. Although low-key, Merchant’s gifted vocals were laced with enough confidence which, blended in with her sheer lyrical brilliance, delivered some of the most stunning hits of the decade – including her first and only top 10 smash – ‘Carnival‘.
I’ve listened to ‘Carnival‘ at any given point of time in my life – the mystery surrounding the stripped-down, haunting melody and lyrics is rather comforting. It’s eerie to think that serial killer Aileen Wuornos had requested ‘Carnival‘ to be played at her funeral after she was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing seven men, she claimed had raped and tortured her.
A commercial and critical smash – ‘Carnival‘ peaked at # 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the parent album ‘Tigerlily‘ sold in excess of 5 million units in the US alone. ‘Carnival‘ would be Merchant’s only top 10 hit, she would go on to notch two more top 20 hits ‘Wonder‘ and ‘Kind And Generous‘.
‘Carnival‘ easily remains a timeless highlight of the 90’s – and even today it is a regular on my playlists on my phone or my iPad. Nostalgia, it’s addictive y’all!
Check out the Melodie McDaniel-directed video of the song right here :