Tift Merritt – Stitch Of The World

Album Review | Yep Roc | Review by Steve Henderson | Stars: 4/5

With supporters like Hiss Golden Messenger, Andrew Bird as well as Don Henley who recorded her song Bramble Rose from the debut album of the same name, many have wondered why Tift Merritt has not more firmly established herself at the top of the music tree. As this, Merritt’s sixth studio album, Stitch of the World evidences, she’s got the songwriting and vocal skills that should seal the deal for listeners. Growing up in North Carolina, she may have previously found inspiration for her songs whilst living in such as Paris but on this occasion, like other songwriters, the artistic fuel was some upheaval in her private life. Stitch of the World gathers together titles like “Heartache Is An Uphill Climb” and “Love Soldiers On” that hint at that personal pain. Both of these being the type of soulful song that allows Tift’s vocal to waft across the music like a cooling breeze at one minute before powering the song along in another. An approach that has had some critics make vocal comparisons with Emmylou Harris and Dusty Springfield. However, the record starts with “Dusty Old Man” with driving drum rhythms and some great guitar that looks at the brighter side of relationships and contradicts the more obvious themes in some songs. Therein lies some of the mystery in her writing because she’s not a teller of tales but a painter of pictures with lyrics leaving room for the listener to draw from their own imagination. No surprise, then, that the lyrics of “My Boat” are adapted from a poem inspired by the writing of Raymond Carver. Similarly, songs like the joyful “Proclamation Bones” and the mournful “Icarus” are mysterious in their way but hint at searching out love and losing it. Indeed, the title track itself with its neat guitar motif can be read as a describing love’s place in holding the world together. More twinkling guitar work from Marc Ribot lays scattered across other tracks adding a suitable contrast to the gliding steel guitar work of Eric Heywood. Towards the end of the record, Sam Beam of Iron and Wine offers up delicious duet vocals on three tracks with some spectacular results, especially on “Eastern Light”, signalling an opportunity for future work. In fact, you’ll get more of this if you splash out on the deluxe version of the album which has three extra tracks. Whatever you choose, rest assured Stitch of the World does, of course, add to the rich tapestry of life.