Personnel: Natalie Merchant (vocals, piano); Natalie Merchant; Katell Keineg, N'Dea Davenport (vocals); John Holbrook (guitar, electric guitar); Matt Henderson (guitar); Greg Leisz (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin); Craig Ross, Gabriel Gordon (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Lokua Kanza (acoustic guitar); Erik Dellapenna (electric guitar, lap steel guitar); Richie Stearns (banjo); Krystof Witek (violin); Ralph Farris, Conway Kuo (viola); Garo Yellin (cello); David Ralicke (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Chris Botti (trumpet); Tom Varner (French horn); Elizabeth Steen (piano, organ); George Laks (piano, Wurlitzer organ); Jason Yates (Hammond b-3 organ); Patrick Warren (pump organ, chamberlin); Mike Elizondo (acoustic bass); Barry MaGuire (bass guitar); Matt Chamberlain (drums, percussion); Allison Miller (drums); Joakim Lartey (percussion); Mavis Staples (vocals); Jennifer Turner (guitar, background vocals); Michelle Kinney (cello); Van Dyke Parks (accordion); Peter Yanowitz (drums); Adrian Lopez Guevarra (percussion).
Audio Remasterers: Daniel Hersch; Bill Inglot.
Recording information: Allaire Studios, Shokan NY (1995-2003); Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, NY (1995-2003); Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA (1995-2003); Talking Dwarf Studios, Little Walley, NY (1995-2003).
Photographers: Jos‚ Picayo; Marion Ettlinger; Frank Ockenfels; Peggy Sirota.
Arranger: Natalie Merchant.
Compiled by Natalie Merchant herself, RETROSPECTIVE: 1995-2005 presents 13 cherry-picked tracks from her solo studio albums of that era. While the disc's first four songs (including the hypnotic "Carnival" and the resonant "San Andreas Fault") feature the vocalist fresh off of her long stint with college-rock mainstays 10,000 Maniacs, later tunes find her exploring gospel (the soulful "Build a Levee" with revered singer Mavis Staples) and traditional folk (the spare "Owensboro"). Merchant, of course, is the thread throughout this anthology, with both her nuanced production work and her distinctive, emotive voice bringing out the heart of each song. Though this is an ideal primer for those unfamiliar with Merchant's solo work, diehard fans will want to get the similarly titled RETROSPECTIVE: 1990-2005, which includes a full disc of rarities and collaborations.