Here is one of those serendipitous finds you just have to chalk up to fate. I don’t know how or why I happened upon Merritt’s second album, Tambourine, a few years ago but it hit me like a freight train. Where had this woman been all my life?
Just a week or two later I got tickets to an Elvis Costello concert and who should be his opening act but… Tift Merritt. I was as excited to see her perform that night as the main act and she did not disappoint. She commanded the auditorium during her short set, jumping from keyboards to acoustic and electric guitar to the harmonica and showing off that wonderful voice — alternately gravelly soulful and crystalline pure.
I even got a chance to meet her after the performance, babbling like an idiot while she signed a copy of her first CD, Bramble Rose. I listened to that one on the way home from the concert and it just confirmed that I had stumbled onto a songwriter and performer of extraordinary talent. Her latest album, Another Country, could be her best yet.
But somehow she remains almost entirely unknown. The fans she has are rabid — look up any of her YouTube videos and you’ll find just a handful of comments, but every one describes her as the second coming — but it doesn’t seem right that she’s not a superstar.
I know a lot of people prefer to have their secret artists, and even feel resentful or lose interest when those artists hit it big. I’ve never understood that mindset. When I discover a new passion I want to share it with the world… both for the artist’s sake and the world’s.
I’m straying from my usual preference of playing only album versions of songs because I find this video incredibly charming. First, the fact that she’s playing a live show in a Nashville record store just underscores the degree to which she’s under appreciated. Second, she answers the store’s phone before playing the song… how cute is that? And finally, I love watching somebody captivate an audience with just her voice and an acoustic guitar. That’s the true test of talent.