Tift Merritt – Tambourine

North Carolina songstress' second LP

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If Merritt’s acclaimed 2002 debut Bramble Rose was her very own Elite Hotel or Heart Like A Wheel, the follow-up’s gone all Dusty in Memphis There are still echoes of slow-burning enchantment on the likes of “Plainest Thing”, but the classic soul ache of “Still Pretending”and “Good Hearted Man”‘s brassy gospel are more Carla Thomas than Linda or Emmylou. Merritt may have realised a dream in enlisting producer George Drakoulias and teenhood heroine Maria McKee (The Jayhawks’ Gary Louris is here, too), but the key lies in the expressive pull and dew-on-the-vine purity of her remarkable voice. For hip-shaking Stax sass, try out “I Am Your Tambourine”or “Shadow In The Way”.

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