Album Review: Tift Merritt – See You On the Moon

Juli Thanki | June 28th, 2010

Tift Merritt - See You On the MoonOde to analog “Mixtape,” a handclap heavy groove with loving depictions of hand drawn covers and references to Mazzy Star serves as the perfect introduction to Tift Merritt’s newest release See You on the Moon: the whole project feels like, to borrow Merritt’s own lyrics, an “audio love letter” to times gone by.

No longer the alt-country songbird of Bramble Rose or the soulstress found on Tambourine, the Tift Merritt of her last two studio albums (both on Fantasy Records) is softer and subtler, but no less powerful. Her songwriting improves with each album; here she brings to life vivid scenes of three-legged dogs and rainy train rides, or compares a failing relationship to the stinging pain of a paper cut in a rather apt metaphor. Producer Tucker Martine (R.E.M., Sufjan Stevens), who recorded the album on two-inch tape, gives the whole album a dreamy feel, backing Merritt’s soprano with jangly, Byrdsian guitars on “Six More Days of Rain” and strings on “Feel of the World,” a beautiful song about Merritt’s grandparents on which she’s joined by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, to mention two of the album’s most captivating songs.

Although her originals are solid, Merritt’s two covers are uninspired. Her version of “Live Till You Die” lacks the life of Emitt Rhodes’ original, and while her bare bones, intimate take on Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” is miles better than Anne Murray’s version, it’s still quite schmaltzy.

On “Engine to Turn,” the album’s best track, Merritt sings “The best I can is what I have to give/Gonna give it while I’m here.” See You on the Moon might not be her best record, but it’s still worth a listen or twelve.

3.5 Stars

  1. Jordan Stacey
    June 28, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I swear this year has some of the best music in a long time.

    Tift Merritt, Shelby Lynne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chely Wright, Elizabeth Cook, Cherryholmes, Jewel (dissapointing as it is), Allison Moorer, Sarah Buxton and the return of Hole! Not a bad year so far, can’t wait for quite a few more.

  2. Rick
    June 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Jordan, that’s quite a list of artists you have there who’ve released new albums recently! Most of them (except for Chely Wright, Jewel, and “Hole”) have made albums at one time or another I consider personal favorites of mine. That being said, I wouldn’t pay a dime for most of their new releases. I know artists need to keeping growing and expanding their personal horizons in their music, but why does it so often lead to increasing suckiness in their output? One of life’s great mysteries…

    PS – Tift has one of those mostly “hollow” singing voices, like Vince Gill, that just don’t cut it for me. When it comes to singing voices, I prefer some “there” there.

  3. Stormy
    June 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I liked this album a bit more than Julie, but it took me a couple of listens to get there.

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