It’s the combination of strength and sweetness in Tift
Merritt’s voice that makes her solo performance here so compelling: her voice
is powerful enough to carry her songs in the absence of a full band, but tender
enough not to overpower her delicately-played guitar and piano melodies. In fact, these acoustic arrangements sound so
natural that it’s often easy to forget that this is a live recording (until, of
course, the applause kicks in). The simplicity of the performance leaves her
songs emotionally exposed: “Another Country” seeps with desire in a
way that the harmony-drenched studio version never quite achieves, while
“Still Pretending” conveys loneliness with a pace much slower and more
deliberate than its studio counterpart.
Merritt takes on songs from each of her three previous
albums, plus a few surprises, like a touching piano cover of George Harrison’s
“I Live For You.” It leaves behind the hope that she’ll eschew a full
band on her next album in favor of more acoustic recordings.
Standout Tracks: “Another
Country,” “Still Pretending” CATHERINE P. LEWIS