Another Country, the third album from Tift Merritt, was recorded with alt-country guru George Drakoulias, who also produced the singer’s 2004 record, Tambourine. Rather than standing pat on the singer’s past successes, the duo took a group of songs Merritt wrote during her time as an American in Paris and turned them into a set of roots-rock beamed in from the good part of ’70s radio.
Another Country should be listened to from beginning to end, preferably on vinyl. Merritt explores new areas in her songwriting and finds a quiet groove in the confessional end of the pop spectrum. The lyrics have an easy sweetness that comes with the assurance of an artist who knows her strength and how to employ them. On “Morning Is My Destination,” the album’s most immediately arresting cut, Merritt’s voice emerges from a single piano note and then fades into a guitar solo with a purity that brings to mind Stevie Nicks. “My Heart Is Free” furthers the comparison, as Merritt hits a “Rihannon” high note over the album’s most straightforward rock riff.
The rest of Another Country finds Merritt in more familiar territory, offering obliquely confessional lyrics about the trials of love in the land of pickups and flannel. Though Merritt offers a good selection of hard-luck break-up music, she’s in a pretty crowded field at the moment. Merritt’s voice shines on “Broken,” “Hopes Too High,” and “Tell Me Something True,” but only “Tender Branch” and “Something to Me” distinguish themselves. Those two tracks showcase the quality of Merritt’s vocals through the lens of country music with the same effect of the rock-oriented material. And Another Country, whether in rock or country mode, is an album built on the voice of its artist.