Daring to dig deeper
Tift Merritt’s first three releases were so solid they seemed calculated; her shifts from alt-country (2002’s Bramble Rose) to soulful Americana (2004’s Tambourine) to homespun lo-fi (2008’s Another Country) were almost too surefooted to fully capitalize on the aching vulnerability that lay below the surface of nearly every song. Though See You On The Moon retains the singer’s classic polish, it’s her first album to successfully capture the intimate tone of her songwriting. Much of the credit for that goes to producer Tucker Martine (Sufjan Stevens, Laura Veirs, The Decemberists), who drapes her in pedal steel and drowsy trails of electric guitar, highlighting every crack and crease in Merritt’s voice. The singer fully inhabits the characters in her songs, whether assuming the role of her grandfather in the heart-wrenching piano ballad “Feel Of The World” or wringing out every weary note in the pleading “All the Reasons We Don’t Have to Fight.” The result might not be her most accessible album, but it’s certainly her most rewarding.