This may be perceived as politically incorrect, so forgive me. Tift Merritt has one of those lovely faces that I do not associate with such a gutsy and grainy singing voice, but looks deceive! There is a hint of Britney in that look (no, I'm not blind!) but so much more beautiful.
However, beauty shouldn't sell albums, talent should - and this lady has it in abundance.
If you were to pidgeon-hole her, she would be seen as a modern country music singer, but there is so much more to her than that - blues, gospel, soul, r&b, rock, you name it, it's here and cooking!!!
In terms of the sound Ms Merritt creates, the menu here consists of reminders of Dusty Springfield, Van Morrison and Aretha Franklin to start with, then some touches of Jayhawks and Black Crows, a great bunch of talented musicians to follow (I love the guitar work, the horns and the organ) and top it all off with brilliant production. A recipe for success.
The opener "Stray Paper" gets you hooked straight away and then you're immersed in a whole bunch of brilliant tracks, all very different from one another. For me, after "Stray Paper", the Springfield-sounding "Good Hearted Man", the soulful "Still Pretending" and the rock-ridden "I Am Your Tambourine" are the standout tracks, but the others are not fillers by any means.
If someone had told me what her music was going to be like, I might have passed it by, but I'm glad I had a listen. This is so good and such an infectious album - one I bet she enjoyed recording - that I am so smitten, I think Bramble Rose will now be on my shortlist of next purchases.
Perhaps album of the year??