Tift Merritt Bramble Rose

What an apt title for Tift Merritt's debut CD, Bramble Rose. Something grows wild in your otherwise well-tended garden that blends right in, until one day you sit back and realise that something is standing out. Merritt is like that, and she's attracted all the right and talented people to help her blossom. Born in Texas, raised in North Carolina, she's played and written tunes for herself for years, but only recently has she raised her face to the sun and brought her music with her. Playing around Chapel Hill and its environs, Merritt started the Carbines with Zeke Hutchins and lent her voice to the Two Dollar Pistols. Bramble Rose shows this flower some culture with renowned producer Ethan Johns at the helm. This is no accident of crosspollination - Ryan Adams, whose solo efforts have benefited from Johns' green thumb, has been a huge proponent of Merritt's. Which brings us back to the CD - her voice is clear and her lyrics true, and comparisons with Emmylou Harris aren't without merit, as both possess a sincerity that can make the most cryptic words make sense. Merritt's songs of loving and leaving just feel right - "Trouble Over Me" is a coy flirtation, "Supposed To Make You Happy" a naïve realisation and "Are You Still In Love With Me" puffy-eyed hope. And "When I Cross Over" is a fine way to wrap Bramble Rose. The wild flower moves on to take root elsewhere and brighten another garden. (Lost Highway)