Album Review: Tift Merritt – See You On the Moon
Ode 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.
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