Search - Tift Merritt :: Tambourine

Tift Merritt
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

Merritt's resonant if somewhat conventionally alt-country debut Bramble Rose did little to predict this blue-eyed-soul breakout. A mix of hard-charging guitar rockers, horn-charted grooves, and pensive singer-songwriter ba...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Tift Merritt
Title: Tambourine
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 4
Label: Lost Highway
Release Date: 8/24/2004
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Americana, Today's Country, Contemporary Folk, Singer-Songwriters
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 602498623374

Merritt's resonant if somewhat conventionally alt-country debut Bramble Rose did little to predict this blue-eyed-soul breakout. A mix of hard-charging guitar rockers, horn-charted grooves, and pensive singer-songwriter ballads, Tambourine might have resulted in a stylistic hodge-podge, but producer George Drakoulias lends the same punchy, live-tracked vitality that distinguished the best work of the Jayhawks, Black Crowes, and Maria McKee. Merritt taps deep into her southern musical roots to find her own voice, and that voice has fully blossomed--her enunciation is clearer, her phrasing sensual without straining. Her best songs balance the urgent economy of classic soul singles with a personal, if not precisely confessional, intensity. Like Van Morrison and Dusty Springfield, Merritt follows her country, soul, and rock & roll instincts to find a single ecstatic sound, one that culminates in the full-out gospel testimony of "Shadow in the Way." Tambourine may not quite live up to the Dusty in Memphis comparisons, but it may very well wind up the album of Tift Merritt's career. --Roy Kasten

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Ani K. (goddessani) from POULSBO, WA
Reviewed on 4/12/2007...
Haunting voice. Best known for Good Hearted Man.

CD Reviews

Somewhere between Patty Griffin & Sheryl Crow
moose_of_many_waters | Palo Alto, CA United States | 09/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Tift's first album was a roots-based, singer-songwriter effort made during the afterglow of "Brother Where Art Thou" when Music Row execs thought that Americana music would be embraced by the public. Unfortunately, the hoped for resurgence in roots music fizzled and many albums, including Bramble Rose, failed to sell.

Following in the footsteps of Wilco and Ryan Adams, Tift has moved out of Southern roots-based music with this album in the effort to sell some records. I can't blame any of them for doing this. There's no use making music unless you have an audience to hear it.

Tift Merritt is a fine songwriter with a sweet voice, and a lot of ambition. There's a lot of Memphis-based soul and a lot of 70s based rock and roll on this album, and an overheated production that sounds best when played very loud. At times, the songs on this album are honest, cut through the slickness, and remind me of Patty Griffin at her best. Other times, the songs are shallow, have decent hooks and remind me of Sheryl Crow.

Sometimes the production on this album overwhelms her voice. While a lot of money has been poured into this album, it's not clear to me how it's going to find a major audience. Just how many people are going to buy 70s-based music steeped in Al Green and the Allman Brothers? It's worth noting that one of the fine back up singers on this album, Maria McKee, tried doing this with an album of her own a few years back. It didn't sell.

Being a star requires talent, hard work, a sound right for the times, compromises to your art, and a whole lot of luck. I've been listening to Tift Merritt since she started playing dive clubs in Chapel Hill and Raleigh (she's a great live performer). I know she wants to be a star. I don't think this album has the sound to get her there, but I hope I'm wrong.

P.S. I picked up a vinyl version of this album and it sounds much better than the CD version, which is very brassy. Given that the feel of the album is very much late 60s / early 70s in tone, listening to it on vinyl gives the album a nice context."
Bold Steps for Tift
Kerry Moon | NC | 08/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tift Merritt's first album, Bramble Rose, was critically acclaimed but fell short of high expectations. This was due mostly to a lack of exposure on any major radio markets. The songs fell between the genre cracks - not quite country enough for country, too little rock and roll for rock. It was generally classified as "alt-country" or "roots." What it really was was Tift Merritt's heart and soul laid out in stunning melodies.

With Tambourine, Tift has completely reinvented herself. The album itself is slickly produced, with lots of instruments and lots of backup voices, compared to the simple, naive production of Bramble Rose.

By now you've probably heard the hype, comparisons to Dusty Springfield, Delaney and Bonnie, and Carole King. The comparisons are apt. This is clearly a sound from a more soulful generation.

Fortunately, the heart and soul behind the music is still Tift Merritt. She is a remarkable songstress. And her beautiful voice is captured with remarkable clarity in these recordings.

If you're a big fan of Tift's earlier music, you'll probably need to listen to Tambourine three or four times before you fully appreciate it. If Tift is a new find, you'll probably find yourself singing along with songs like "Good Hearted Man," or "Write My Ticket." You'll get a good chuckle out of "Your Love Made a U Turn." If you're like me, you'll get completely hooked on "Still Pretending." Old fan or new, once you put Tambourine into your CD player, you'll be loathe to take it out.

Given the remarkable variety of Tift's first two albums, one can only hope we don't have to wait another two years to see what she will come up with next."