Lost Highway Records – 2004 – 46 minutes

The second album from Texas-born Tift Merritt is both upbeat and sorrowful, infused with Merritt's personal blend of country rock.

The opening track 'Stray Paper' is a little too dreamy, but Merritt gets into a good rhythm with the upbeat 'Wait it Out' and the tender 'Good Hearted Man', one of the collection's best tracks. There are some very heartfelt songs about loneliness and lost opportunity, most notably 'Late Night Pilgrim' and 'Laid a Highway'. And 'Still Pretending' is a gentle ballad full of yearning.

Merritt has a very soulful voice that's at times husky and vulnerable and at others very strong and defiant. It makes for interesting listening coupled with the big sounds of the band, but her vocal is sometimes a little irritating. Her southern twang can be slightly grating.

It's a nice collection though, with just the right mix of rock and country. There's also a good blend of emotional and up-tempo songs. 'Tambourine' proves that Merritt has definitely got the blend right and fans should enjoy this second offering.

Katie Moten

Tracklisting: Stray Paper – Wait it Out – Good Hearted Man – Ain't Looking Closely – Still Pretending – Write My Ticket – Your Love Made a U-Turn – Plainest Thing – Late Night Pilgrim – I am Your Tambourine – Laid a Highway – Shadow in the Way