Published Jan 25, 2017Tift Merritt has attributed elements of her multifaceted, genre-defying songwriting style to her father's diverse record collection of soul, folk, country and R&B music, but regardless of what label you attach to her music, Merritt's effortless songwriting ability and talent is on full display on her sixth studio album, Stitch of the World.
The North Carolina native has been likened to Joni Mitchell and Iris Dement, but much like her previous albums, Stitch of the World runs the gamut from straight-ahead country rock to poignant balladry to Celtic-inspired melodies to deeply felt soul and blues music.
The album starts fast with a guitar-driven, Bonnie Raitt-inspired blues number titled "Dusty Old Man," on which Merritt cryptically sings that her "dusty old man" is "mean as a snake." "My Boat," which may be the best track on the album (though it's tough to pick just one) is a utopian fantasy in which Merritt uses a boat as a metaphor for an idyllic world of her creation. It's a beautiful, inspiring tune.
The title track deals with working through the complexities of life with a gentle fearlessness, and employs a Celtic melody that gives the song a maritime feel. The following track, "Icarus," is a beautiful ballad that uses the Greek mythological legend as a parallel for one's own life. It's another contender for best song on the album, and features some gorgeous pedal steel with powerful, haunting percussion.
The marvelous "Proclamation Bones" adds some rhythmic punch to the latter half of the album, while the final three tracks feature the vocal harmonies of Sam Beam (of Iron and Wine fame), a nice parting gift as the album concludes.
Tift Merritt and her wonderful band deliver big time with this record — hardly surprising, considering her past career accomplishments. Despite it being very early in 2017, it's safe to say this album will be on many year-end lists come December. (Yep Roc)