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56 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 24, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tift Merritt's new album Tambourine is the highly anticipated follow up to her critically acclaimed 2002 debut Bramble Rose. Produced by George Drakoulias (The Jayhawks,The Black Crowes, Tom Petty), Tambourine was recorded with an all-star band including: Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), Maria McKee (Lone Justice), Robert Randolph & Don Heffington (Bob Dylan) as well as a full gospel choir & horn section. Tambourine sounds like an instant classic, drawing influences from Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis, Delaney & Bonnie's Accept No Substitute & Shelby Lynne's I Am Shelby Lynne.

Merritt's resonant if somewhat conventionally alt-country debut Bramble Rose did little to predict this blue-eyed-soul breakout. A mix of hard-charging guitar rockers, horn-charted grooves, and pensive singer-songwriter ballads, Tambourine might have resulted in a stylistic hodge-podge, but producer George Drakoulias lends the same punchy, live-tracked vitality that distinguished the best work of the Jayhawks, Black Crowes, and Maria McKee. Merritt taps deep into her southern musical roots to find her own voice, and that voice has fully blossomed--her enunciation is clearer, her phrasing sensual without straining. Her best songs balance the urgent economy of classic soul singles with a personal, if not precisely confessional, intensity. Like Van Morrison and Dusty Springfield, Merritt follows her country, soul, and rock & roll instincts to find a single ecstatic sound, one that culminates in the full-out gospel testimony of "Shadow in the Way." Tambourine may not quite live up to the Dusty in Memphis comparisons, but it may very well wind up the album of Tift Merritt's career. --Roy Kasten

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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Stray Paper (Album Version) 3:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Wait It Out (Album Version) 3:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Good Hearted Man (Album Version) 3:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Ain't Looking Closely (Album Version) 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Still Pretending (Album Version) 3:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Write My Ticket (Album Version) 3:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Your Love Made A U Turn (Album Version) 2:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Plainest Thing (Album Version) 3:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Late Night Pilgrim (Album Version) 4:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. I Am Your Tambourine (Album Version) 3:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Laid A Highway (Album Version) 3:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Shadow In The Way (Album Version) 4:46$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lost Highway
  • ASIN: B0002OPES2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,575 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Moon on August 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Tift Merritt's first album, Bramble Rose, was critically acclaimed but fell short of high expectations. This was due mostly to a lack of exposure on any major radio markets. The songs fell between the genre cracks - not quite country enough for country, too little rock and roll for rock. It was generally classified as "alt-country" or "roots." What it really was was Tift Merritt's heart and soul laid out in stunning melodies.

With Tambourine, Tift has completely reinvented herself. The album itself is slickly produced, with lots of instruments and lots of backup voices, compared to the simple, naive production of Bramble Rose.

By now you've probably heard the hype, comparisons to Dusty Springfield, Delaney and Bonnie, and Carole King. The comparisons are apt. This is clearly a sound from a more soulful generation.

Fortunately, the heart and soul behind the music is still Tift Merritt. She is a remarkable songstress. And her beautiful voice is captured with remarkable clarity in these recordings.

If you're a big fan of Tift's earlier music, you'll probably need to listen to Tambourine three or four times before you fully appreciate it. If Tift is a new find, you'll probably find yourself singing along with songs like "Good Hearted Man," or "Write My Ticket." You'll get a good chuckle out of "Your Love Made a U Turn." If you're like me, you'll get completely hooked on "Still Pretending." Old fan or new, once you put Tambourine into your CD player, you'll be loathe to take it out.

Given the remarkable variety of Tift's first two albums, one can only hope we don't have to wait another two years to see what she will come up with next.
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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful By moose_of_many_waters VINE VOICE on September 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Tift's first album was a roots-based, singer-songwriter effort made during the afterglow of "Brother Where Art Thou" when Music Row execs thought that Americana music would be embraced by the public. Unfortunately, the hoped for resurgence in roots music fizzled and many albums, including Bramble Rose, failed to sell.

Following in the footsteps of Wilco and Ryan Adams, Tift has moved out of Southern roots-based music with this album in the effort to sell some records. I can't blame any of them for doing this. There's no use making music unless you have an audience to hear it.

Tift Merritt is a fine songwriter with a sweet voice, and a lot of ambition. There's a lot of Memphis-based soul and a lot of 70s based rock and roll on this album, and an overheated production that sounds best when played very loud. At times, the songs on this album are honest, cut through the slickness, and remind me of Patty Griffin at her best. Other times, the songs are shallow, have decent hooks and remind me of Sheryl Crow.

Sometimes the production on this album overwhelms her voice. While a lot of money has been poured into this album, it's not clear to me how it's going to find a major audience. Just how many people are going to buy 70s-based music steeped in Al Green and the Allman Brothers? It's worth noting that one of the fine back up singers on this album, Maria McKee, tried doing this with an album of her own a few years back. It didn't sell.

Being a star requires talent, hard work, a sound right for the times, compromises to your art, and a whole lot of luck. I've been listening to Tift Merritt since she started playing dive clubs in Chapel Hill and Raleigh (she's a great live performer). I know she wants to be a star.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Neil L. Inglis on December 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I would rank this an unqualified success. Compared to the previous album (Bramble Rose), the producers have miked TM's intense vocals more closely and the result is all gain. "Laid a Highway" and "The Plainest Thing" are songs for the ages. There is a beautiful voice here--but interpretation too, a much less common treasure. A very happy discovery.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Greg Zimmerman on June 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
North Carolina-bred singer/songwriter Tift Merritt can easily be declared as this generations new version of Carole King or Dusty Springfield. Maybe that sounds a little to extreme for most folks, but with just one listen to Merritt's sweet voice, you can't help but begin to make some sort of comparisons.

Merritt broke through onto the country scene a couple of years ago with her, Bramble Rose, record. Although garnered by many critics as being an impressive debut record, many felt something was lacking in the production of the record. Don't be fooled though with Merritt's new release, Tambourine. It might just be one of this year's greatest surprises. I couldn't put it down once I began my first listen.

Tambourine, is as explosive musically as anything contemporary country music has given us this year. It's like a whirlwind of music from every possible avenue of an artistic discovery. Merritt does an extraordinary job with her mixture of music from everything reminiscent of her sweet southern blues to the pleasant soul voice that she plants into our hearts with every song. Merritt is a plain spoken songstress. She doesn't create anything to fancy and even allows her music to beam a ray of light into our consciousness. It's her own glory to unearth many new intention of how to make her music fun that makes this album such a joy to listen to. That is something to celebrate.

I know it sounds a little cliché by now, but there really isn't a single bad track on this record. Her musical appreciation is something that should not to be taken lightly. I give her a lot of credit finding the right music that fits her well.
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