By Aaron Davis (for JHWeekly.com)
Traveling Alone TIFT MERRITT
Tift Merritt’s solo performance at JHME’s annual Women of Jackson Concert in 2008 was one of the year’s top local shows. After releasing Buckingham Solo in 2009, and now, Traveling Alone, themes of isolation obviously have crept in. Singing over one chord rarely sounds as inviting as the path that the acoustic guitar-led title track takes, followed by a down tempo piano and pedal steel bedded “Sweet Spot,” which tonally spells Lucinda Williams. Soft subjects of emotional separation (“Drifting Apart”), the search for love on one’s own terms (“Sweet Spot”), and channeling Emmylou Harris (“Feeling of Beauty”) maintains the lyrical theme over gentle country lopes. Merritt’s classic balladry lyrically shuns the idea of “Small Talk Relations” before picking up the beat and the electric guitars on “To Myself.” Traveling Alone certainly sustains an easy-going vibe, leaving only a few non-authoritative moments when it seemed appropriate for Merritt to vocally transition from the fragile and whispery to the grit that the instrumentation suggests. To the end, tenderness reigns.