It isn't hard to figure out exactly why critics love Tift Merritt. Those reasons have been amply revealed in past work and continue to be expanded with this new offering. What seems a bit puzzling is that her talents haven't gotten even more exposure in mainstream media outlets.
Merritt is really the entire package. Her vocals are expressive, rough-edged or hush-toned depending on the needs of the material. She starts with a pair of up-tempo tunes, "Something to Me" and "Broken" before turning a bit restless for the next two, the title cut and "Hopes Too High."
Merritt's other strength is a wonderful gift of composition. She writes a mean line. For instance there's "No place to run for a girl like me/Whole lot of used to's and supposed to be's/I want to burn like august, shine like gold dust/Where everyday living can't hold me" ("Hopes Too High"). "Tell Me Something True" contains these nuggets: "Time's gonna come here so remiss/He will forget my words, forget my kiss/If you want to love me, better take me like this/I think the best that I can do is tell you something true."
Yet, her talent for spinning a good song is more than just thoughtful and compelling words on a page. She also has a knack for putting just the right music behind the lyrics, be it traditional country, rock or even a Muscle Shoals blend. Merritt might get just a shade too quiet at times through the latter stages of "Another Country" as the album could use a bit more of an edge in places. But the disc is strong throughout and certainly stands up well after many plays.