Tift Merritt – Another Country
Fantasy Records (02/26/08)
Alt-country / Folk
With her 2002 release, Bramble Rose, Tift Merritt seemed to garner the type of critical acclaim of which someone in her position could only dream. With one failed release for a major label under her belt, Merritt’s name was suddenly being mentioned in the same breath as legends like Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris. Perhaps it was all too much. With her follow-up, Tambourine, Merritt seemed too unfocused, either trying to break away from that mold or prove she was something more. With hints of country, soul and folk, Tambourine was too “all over the map” to really grab hold and maintain the listener’s attention.
Now, on Another Country, Merritt finally seems to be comfortable. The songs on this album could easily compare to a soulful Patty Griffin. Merritt’s blend of alt-country and folk is soothing and comfortable. And almost every song on here measures up to and then eclipses “Virginia, No One Can Warn You” (her breakthrough single).
“I Know What You’re Looking For Now” feels as comfortable as a warm bed on a cold day, as Merritt’s smooth vocals breeze over piano and slide guitar with little effort. Opener “Something to Me” is more up-tempo (and also where Merritt most sounds like Griffin), but it’s the lyrics that really shine on this track. In fact, the lyrics are where Merritt shows the most overall improvement from her previous work.
Of note is the infectious “Broken”, with particularly shining harmonies, and the hypnotic “Keep You Happy”, a slow-burn, folksy ballad which is one of Merritt’s best songs to date.
Merritt is still, somehow, an underground sensation. Far from a country artist, I’d consider her more of a folk artist at this point (with some classic country undertones on the music side of things). Another Country marks Merritt’s best work to date, so if you have yet to discover this soulful artist, there’s no better time than now.