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Tift Merritt Tift Merritt
Album: Stich Of The World
Label: Yep Roc
Tracks: 10

A few years ago, North Carolina native,Tift Merritt, with her incredible powerhouse vocals and angsty guitar playing, were regulars on the UK Americana circuit. Then she took time out, for life, and all went very quiet. Now, much to the pleasure of many music lovers, she is back, with a new album, her sixth, and dates as one of the headline acts with this year's' tour of the wonderful Transatlantic Sessions.

Her long awaited return album takes the form of the intriguingly named "Stitch Of The World." Backed by wonderful musicianship from Jay Bellerose on drums, Marc Ribot on guitar and Eric Heywood on lapsteel, she explores themes which cover the gamut of life. Nothing is out of bounds, not even divorce or childbirth, all reflected on with lyrical eloquence and her trademark feisty attitude.

The CD comprises a mixture of upbeat songs and aching ballads, effortlessly delivered and together showing the impressive range of Merritt's vocals. Unusually, the final three songs take a different turn; they are all collaborations with, featuring harmonies from Iron & Wine's Sam Beam.

On an album full of strong tracks, it is hard to select standouts. However, perhaps the most immediately striking among them, are Heartache is an Uphill Climb, Dusty Old Man, Proclamation Bones and My Boat, Tift's take on the poem by Raymond Carver, which is almost uncomfortably apt to the times in which we find ourselves.

That, I've always felt, is Tift Merritt's gift. Whatever her song choice, or style, she keeps it real and relatable. That is what will have people excited to see her again at these upcoming dates, and those who haven't yet seen her discovering what we already know. Tift Merritt is a name to watch.

Helen Mitchell