VH1’s Storytellers (in existence since 1996) has covered a wide gamut of artists, from John Fogerty to The Bee Gees, and even Billy Idol. The show’s formula is simple: Take a musician with a string of hits, have them perform in front of a live audience in a small theatre, reminiscent of MTV’s Unplugged, and have them discuss their songs prior to performing them.
Natalie Merchant’s Storytellers DVD (released on April 26, 2005) is a brief overview of her career, featuring three songs from her days with 10,000 Maniacs and five from the first two of her solo albums (the performance is from 1998, prior to Motherland and House Carpenter’s Daughter’s release). The actual performance finishes up at around 43 minutes and, though brief, features nice sound quality with a 5.1 mix.
Those more familiar with Merchant’s career might be a bit disappointed. “I didn’t have to tell you anything deep and dark and scary about myself,” she says after the opening performance of “These Are Days.” Most of her songs have been inspired by visions of life, events unfolding around her. Because of this, there is little depth that isn’t discernable without a few listens to songs in question. Oddly enough, the most interesting analysis of her work comes in the form of “Life Is Sweet,” a highly criticized tune from 1998’s Ophelia. Unfortunately, this performance wasn’t aired in the first broadcast and is only featured as an extra on the disk.
While fairly short-winded, VH1’s Storytellers performance by Natalie Merchant is a nice addition to any fan’s DVD collection (especially considering the bargain pricing). The performances are nicely executed in the small venue, giving an air of intimacy to the hits, the sound and picture quality are better than expected, and Ms. Merchant, as usual, is in top form.
Cross Posted at MRBenning's World