Pop & Rock

Songwriting At Its Best

26 FEB 08 DAVID VIENNA

Tift Merritt's Fantasy debut Another Country features a flat-out amazing demonstration of singer/songwriter prowess. I know it sounds like I'm gushing. That's because I am.

Merritt's talent for finding the perfect turn-of-phrase to match an addictively singable melody is on par with other great songsters like James Taylor, label-mate John Fogerty, Carole King, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Dusty Springfield, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. In the dreamy lullaby "Keep You Happy" (free download), she pines, "A feeling has me and tells me it will never stay / Your heart beats miles now, I feel them as they fly away." That's good stuff right there.

The acoustic-based rock style plays as sincere as Merritt's lyrics. Listening to the album, it's easy to imagine what she sounds like live. There's no studio trickery here. And the prominent slide guitar and occasional organ adds a hint of southern Baptist revival to the album. That's interesting considering most of the album was written not in her native Carolinas, but in Paris, where she secluded herself with a piano after a grueling tour. Her time in the City of Lights is recreated in the video for "Broken."

The kind of excellence found on Another Country is Merritt's hallmark. In 2002, both Time and the New Yorker put her album Bramble Rose on their top ten list. And her sophomore album, Tambourine, was nominated for a Grammy. Another Country is out today and Merritt is on tour now.



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