It's been a busy couple of years for Tift Merritt. Since releasing Another Country in 2008, she has put out a live album, held her own photography exhibition and taken up hosting a radio show for a public station in Texas. More recently, the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter released her fourth album, See You on the Moon, on Fantasy Records on Tuesday.
Merritt opens See You on the Moon with "Mixtape," a song that drops the typical "alt-country" trappings in favor of a slinky electric guitar line, hand claps and sweeping string arrangements. The sing-songy chorus will undoubtedly stick with you for a while.
The album as a whole is hard to pigeonhole into a single category, which is a good thing, exploring space more than Merritt's previous albums. But worry not, her charming vocals and beautiful melodies carry the album, and many of the songs still have a bit of that alt-country twang.
At times, some of the lyrics come off as simple and even a bit cheesy. There can be beauty in simplicity or complexity, but it's pretty difficult to perfect either. However, there's a nice surprise with My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James' guest appearance on "Feel of the World", singing harmonies along with Merritt. This one stands out as a possible single with its gentle but driving melody.
"All the Reasons We don't Have to Fight" is another strong spot on the album as Merritt brings the album to a climax of sorts. It peaks with its energy and electric guitars, and once it ends, the album returns to the soft folksy-type tunes that preceded this song.
You can catch Merritt on Saturday in her old Triangle stomping grounds. She'll play at the newly-renovated North Carolina Museum of Art with Jason Collett before embarking on a nationwide tour for the rest of the summer.