Tift Merritt

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Tift Merritt

Bramble Rose (Lost Highway) Bramble Rose may be her recorded debut, but Texas-born/current Raleigh, N.C., resident Tift Merritt has already caused a stir in the alt.country underground with her heartwarming songs and remarkable live performances. Merritt's clear, powerful vocals (think young Emmylou Harris or Maria McKee), combined with hook-filled tunes and lyrics that belie her relatively young age, demonstrate that she's poised for mainstream success. Her music possesses a decidedly American sound with a strong country bias and is remarkably free of cliché. Songs like the twangy, rockin' "I Know Him Too," Bramble's powerful opener, plus "Trouble Over Me" and the bittersweet, lilting "Supposed to Make You Happy" show she's capable of displaying a wide range of emotions with remarkable efficiency. Merritt displays a fully formed literary style that's rare for such a young artist. It possesses the stamp of such influences as Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan, and Kitty Wells, yet also draws from the literary well of writers such as Cormac McCarthy and Eudora Welty. It all adds up to an album that combines atmospheric roots music with a finely tuned lyrical sense. Bramble Rose, as impressive a debut as you are likely to hear all year. (Sunday, Sept. 29, 2:50-3:30pm, Austin stage.)

*** .5

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