With oodles of critical praise but disappointing commercial response, Tift Merritt's terrific 2002 debut was a qualified success. On her follow-up two years later, she gradually but decidedly moves her ringing country rock toward a more classic soul sound. With producer George Drakoulias -- who mined similar territory with Maria McKee -- providing the musical muscle, the album is an impressive accomplishment.
The mainstream press embraced Tift Merritt’s 2002 debut almost unequivocally, likening the young North Carolinian singer-songwriter to established genre heroes like Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. Not faint praise, but common-enough as a style of critical shorthand – useful in distinguishing a new singer as, well, a woman with a twangy voice (Harris and Williams themselves have little more in common than that). In Merritt’s case, though, the comparisons were unusually perceptive.