Song of the Day #1,563: ‘Drifted Apart’ – Tift Merritt

It’s been a very good year for new music releases, particularly if you’re me.

New albums from Ben Folds Five, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan, The Shins, Tift Merritt, The Wallflowers, Garbage, Lyle Lovett and Bruce Springsteen, all in one year? Talk about a dream lineup.

I’ve hardly had any time to discover new artists because I’m so busy listening to new music by my favorites.

This week I’ll feature songs from the latest five albums I’ve bought, starting with Traveling Alone, the latest from Tift Merritt.

This is Merritt’s fifth studio album. She is no longer a newcomer, but rather an established artist with a body of work that informs her new material.

I’m still getting to know Traveling Alone, but my initial reaction is that it isn’t quite as strong as her two best albums, Tambourine and See You On the Moon, but at the same time it represents a leap ahead for her sound and sensibility.

More than half of the record’s 11 tracks are quiet ballads and I have yet to entirely distinguish them from each other. I probably will given a few more listens, but right now I’m more drawn to the outliers.

‘Spring’ starts and ends with a whisper but in between soars on a grungy electric guitar riff. ‘Still Not Home’ and ‘To Myself’ have a propulsive blues-stomp momentum that blends beautifully with Merritt’s raspy-sweet vocals. Today’s SOTD, ‘Drifted Apart,’ is a gorgeous heartbreak ballad featuring Andrew Bird channeling Roy Orbison on the chorus.

The less distinctive songs are no less impressive musically. Merritt has assembled a talented group of Americana session musicians who had never played together before, and then cut the album live (in the studio) over just a week. She was aiming for a spontaneous, organic sound and achieved that goal in spades. This might be her most beautiful record, sonically.

I need to spend a little more time with these songs before I can really rank Traveling Alone among Merritt’s discography. As an artist releases more material, each new song is measured up against a growing list of those that came before. The wall gets harder to scale. It’s like warming up to a new character on a TV show that’s been on for five years.

But that caveat aside, this is another stellar release from a woefully under-appreciated musician.

You are a child
When love is warm
Can’t stay a child for long
Maybe the good times are up ahead
Maybe those times are gone

Same things keeping us together
Are the very ones making it hard
Better take a look around
Baby we’re drifting apart

Drifting apart
Drifting so slow
I watch you go
I watch you go
Don’t pretend you don’t know

Day by day
slowly you changed
Growing into what you are
Nobody sees it happen
It’s easy like opening a door

Same things keeping us together
Begin to make a wreck of our hearts
No use to shout about it
Baby we’re drifting apart

Drifting apart
Drifting so slow
I watch you go
I watch you go
Don’t pretend you don’t know

The quiet settling of the night
It always comes to pass
Answer to yourself in the dark
That’s where everyone lives

Same things keeping us together
Are the problems we’ve had from the start
Staying beside each other lonesome
Feels like the hardest part

Same things keeping us together
Are the very ones that tear us apart
Nobody’s fault at all
Baby we’re drifting apart

Drifting apart
Drifting so slow
I watch you go
I watch you go
Don’t pretend you don’t know

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,563: ‘Drifted Apart’ – Tift Merritt

  1. Dana says:

    Nothing like a Roy Orbison-esque chorus to turn me right off from an otherwise pretty ballad :-) I’m sure I would like other tracks better.

  2. pegclifton says:

    I kinda like the Orbison-esque chorus, pretty song.

  3. IMO Another Country, Bramble Rose and Travelling Alone are the best of Tift’s albums, and it is the quiet songs that really show what a brilliant artist she is.

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