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Tift Merritt

Another Country – 2008 (Fantasy)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Tift Merritt

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.