Pushing through the jinx that gave Blind Man's Zoo its preachy feel, 10,000 Maniacs offer up a baker's dozen of wonderful folk-pop songs with hard-hitting messages, nearly matching the brilliance of In My Tribe, their major-label debut. Natalie Merchant is a few years older here, a few tribulations wiser, and a few shakes looser, although that's not to say she doesn't have a point (or 13) to make. Whether with old-school R&B horns ablaze or the simple elegance of a piano and strings, she glorifies, condemns, and cherishes the world she witnesses, not excusing herself or anyone else from the part they play. The rest of the band, Rob Buck, Dennis Drew, Steve Gustafson, and Jerome Augustyniak, gives her the superb musical roots and wings from which to grow and soar. The subject matter of the songs is sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, but always graceful. For instance, "These Are Days" is left open to interpretation, though the upbeat tone is unmistakable, while "I'm Not the Man" is a very pointed and poignant story of a jailed man falsely accused and awaiting his death. Merchant's poetry shimmers and tugs at your heart and head. The prophetically titled Our Time in Eden spawned modest hits with "These Are Days" and "Candy Everybody Wants," but turned out to be the final chapter for this maniacal five-some, as Merchant departed the band shortly after touring in support of the album. A finer swan song has seldom been heard.
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AllMusic Review by Kelly McCartney