released June 1st, 2010

from the album - Mixtape

from all music

Singer/songwriter Tift Merritt seemingly appeared out of nowhere in the spring of 2002 with her acclaimed debut album Bramble Rose, but as is often the case, this triple-threat artist a gifted singer, superb songwriter, and skillful guitarist actually has plenty of experience under her belt. Born in Houston, TX, in 1975, Merritt's family moved to North Carolina when she was young and she's lived there ever since. Merritt first developed an interest in music when she was a child and learned to sing harmonies with her father, who had dabbled in folk music in his younger days; in her early teens, she picked up a guitar and her dad taught her her first four chords. While Merritt was drawn to the rebellious spirit of punk and indie rock, she felt a greater emotional connection with more acoustic-oriented artists, particularly Joni Mitchell (Merritt once told a reporter, "I went through a Joni Mitchell phase and all girls go through a Joni Mitchell phase; if any girl tells you she never did, don't believe her."). Hearing Emmylou Harris' album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town opened Merritt's ears to roots music and she soon began to immerse herself in North Carolina's active alt-country scene. Merritt began appearing on a semi-regular basis with the band the Two Dollar Pistols, singing duets with lead singer John Howie and playing rhythm guitar; she eventually appeared on a seven-song EP of classic country covers the group released in the fall of 1999. Looking for a vehicle for her own songwriting, in 1998 Merritt formed a band called the Carbines with drummer Zeke Hutchins, guitarist Greg Reading, and bassist Jay Brown; the band soon became a fixture on the North Carolina club scene and they released a well-received 7" single. Between the Carbines and the Two Dollar Pistols, Merritt was becoming a popular figure in the North Carolina roots music community and in early 2000, Merritt and the Carbines seemed poised to sign a contract with Sugar Hill Records. The deal fell through at the last minute, but when Merritt won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the annual 2000 Merlefest Music Festival, it sparked a new round of interest in her work. Fellow North Carolina native Ryan Adams brought Merritt to the attention of his manager, Frank Callari, and he began shopping a record deal for her; when he was hired as an A&R executive for the Universal-distributed roots music label Lost Highway, Merritt became one of his first signings. (While Merritt was signed as a solo act, she's continued to use the Carbines as her backing band, both for live shows and for the recording of Bramble Rose). Her debut album was released to enthusiastic reviews in June 2002. The George Drakoulias-produced Tambourine appeared two years later, followed by Another Country in 2008, and the live Buckingham Solo in 2009, both on Fantasy Records.

album review

Tift Merritt has become unexpectedly (and thankfully) prolific since she signed with Fantasy Records in 2008, after going four years without releasing a record. See You on the Moon is her third album in as many years, and from the first track, the gentle and soul-infused love song "Mixtape," she demonstrates that she can maintain solid quality control at this pace and does so with ease. See You on the Moon is a more spare and intimate-sounding set than 2008's Another Country, as if she learned a bit about the value of concision with her 2009 solo acoustic live set Buckingham Sunday, but Merritt clearly works well with others (the backing musicians are uniformly great, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket contributes some solid harmonies on "Feel of the World"), and while the arrangements wisely avoid cluttering the clean landscapes of her melodies, producer and engineer Tucker Martine gives the recordings a full-bodied sound even when the performances are purposefully simple. As on Merritt's other albums, the real key to See You on the Moon lies in her songs and her voice, and both are in splendid form here; Merritt has a lovely natural instrument, but she never relies on beauty for its own sake, letting a range of emotional shadings color the tunes, and with a subtle catch in her voice or a bend in her pitch, she can break your heart and mend it again moments later. And Merritt writes about the pains and satisfactions of love with an eloquence and articulate simplicity that will draw you in if you give her half a chance; "Papercut" is as telling a metaphor of a hurtful relationship as anyone has conjured in a while, and "Mixtape" is not only lovely but should earn her the loyalty of analog-loving music geeks around the world. (Merritt also includes two well-chosen covers, a forceful take on Emitt Rhodes' "Live to You Die" and a version of Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song" that cuts the treacle of the best-known recordings while maintaining its emotional power.) There's a modesty in Tift Merritt's music that makes it more compelling than a lot of artists who make a grand show of their joy and/or grief, and See You on the Moon finds Merritt weaving her spell as effectively as ever; it's marvelous music well worth your time and attention.

Track Listing

1 Mixtape Merritt 3:18
2 Engine to Turn Merritt 2:51
3 The Things That Everybody Does Merritt 3:05
4 Six More Days of Rain Merritt 2:46
5 Feel of the World Merritt 4:44
6 Neer Talk About It Merritt 4:48
7 All the Reasons We Don't Have to Fight Merritt 4:39
8 Live Till You Die Rhodes 2:44
9 Papercut Merritt 2:51
10 See You on the Moon Merritt 4:34
11 Danny's Song Loggins 2:10
12 After Today Merritt 4:31