Lost Highway - 2002 - 51 minutes

Championed by Ryan Adams and produced by Ethan Johns, the man behind his acclaimed 'Heartbreaker' and 'Gold' albums, Merritt certainly has made good friends on her journey up from the bars of the South. But 'Bramble Rose' repays the faith in her in spades.

It's a low-key record of bluesy country and while many of the songs seem familiar, Merritt's voice is a charm throughout. Citing her heroes as Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt, Merritt's work on the title track, 'Sunday' and album closer 'When I Cross Over' warrant the 27-year-old being ranked up there with that trinity.

She also seems unconcerned with single success because there's not a song on 'Bramble Rose' that would make it on the radio before evening time. There are however plenty that will eventually work their way into you and anyone disappointed by the recent big sounds from Jewel or Shelby Lynne may find consolation in Merritt's trail of tears. Burning slow - but bright.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Trouble Over Me - Virginia, No One Can Warn You - Neighbourhood - Bird of Freedom - Bramble Rose - I Know Him Too - Sunday - Supposed to Make You Happy - Diamond Shoes - Are You Still in Love with Me - When I Cross Over