Natalie Merchant Returns With New Album, Will Co-Headline Lilith Fair

Ex-10,000 Maniacs vocalist Natalie Merchant will release her second solo album, "Ophelia," on May 19. Merchant has also been tapped to co-headline this year's Lilith fair along with tour founder Sarah McLachlan.

According to Merchant, "Ophelia" marks a stylistic departure from the sparse stylings of her previous album, the triple-platinum "Tiger Lily." This time around the singer engaged specific musicians to collaborate on individual songs, including Tibetan singer Yungchen Llhamo, Innocence Mission vocalist Karen Paris, and producer extraordinaire Daniel Lanois. The results of which Merchant structured into a "concept album," with the lyrics interweaving with each other to create a "cohesive mood flowing throughout the sequence of songs."

The new record will also be accompanied by a short-film co-directed by Mark Seliger and Fred Woodward, the respective chief photographer and art director for "Rolling Stone" magazine. The 22 minute-film, which combines elements of theater,

music and dance, features Merchant in seven different roles, each of which speak a different language.

Both the film and album for "Ophelia" will be previewed in major cities during the first week of May. Dates for Merchant's stint on Lilith Fair have yet to be confirmed, and there are now plans for the Fair to tour Europe in the fall. No artists or dates have been announced for Lilith's European outing, but we'll keep you informed.