Tift Merritt: Woman at Work
photo by Jason Frank Rothenberg
When you think about it, See You On the Moon is the perfect title for Tift Merritt’s just-released album.
When she approaches new songs and resultant albums, the process is so wide ranging that it bumps from the singular realm of her songwriting into the anything-is-possible collaborative process before settling into a song completely her own.
“The records start with me, by myself, writing,” says Merritt. “Then they grow into this fully produced kind of thing, and then they blow back down to something that can stand up live.”
Four albums into a 12-year career, she knows how to keep the process moving without allowing it to spin out of control.
It’s an organic, play-it-as-it-comes process that has garnered the Texas-born, North Carolina-raised Merritt a 2004 Grammy Award nomination for Tambourine as Best Country Album, and four Americana Music Award nominations including three for Tambourine and one for the 2006’s Another Country.
Despite where her head was telling to record See You On the Moon, Merritt stuck to her gut to deliver an album full of personal stories and reflections that range her grandparents (“Feel of the World”) to teens receiving lifetime prison sentences (“After Today”).
“We had made some plans to go out West to record and they weren’t feeling right,” she says. “Our guitar player and bass player live in North Carolina and there’s a piano in the studio I just love, that I always had a lot of good luck on when I was recording. It was kind of late in the game, but one day, [I said, ‘Listen], this is all getting really complicated—we just need to take this record home.’”
Recording in familiar surroundings where most of the band members could return home after working made all the difference in creating an atmosphere to deliver the music she had envisioned.
“I write songs and every record is different and every record should be different,” Merritt says. “I’m not going to make the same record four times, five times. What ties all my work together is my songwriting and a sincere point of view.”
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