88.2kHz/24-BIT FLAC*, Nonsuch/Warner Music Group 2541042 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

American songstress Natalie Merchant has been an audiophile favourite ever since she departed the lead vocalist’s role from 10,000 Maniacs two decades ago. Her solo debut Tigerlilly was among the initial batch of albums selected by Warner to mark the introduction of the DVD-Audio format, while 1999’s Live In Concert featuring covers of ‘After The Gold Rush’ and ‘Space Oddity’ is a timeless hi-fi demonstration recording. She’s hardly prolific. This eponymously-titled release is only her sixth studio album – and having married, divorced, and raised a daughter it sees her songwriting reaching a high level of maturity as she touches on many personal issues. It’s a finely-crafted recording as well, the sound richly balanced and sweetly toned. Her fans certainly won’t be disappointed – although our Lab Report indicates you might buy the CD rather than pay more for the 88.2kHz/24-bit file. JB

Sound Quality: 75%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

Also available as a 44.1kHz CD, this 88.2kHz download shows signs of being a distorted upsample with sub-20kHz music signals reflected beyond 22.05kHz [see RMS spectrum, blue, and single sample spectrum, green]. PM