Classic echoesBy Michael Norman
Some young artists are slaves to their heroes. But
Tambourine earned a Grammy nomination for best country album. But "country" doesn't begin to describe the variety of music on this 12-track classic. Merritt struts and stomps ("I am Your Tambourine") and raises one heck of a rock 'n' roll ruckus ("Late Night Pilgrim," "Wait It Out"). She sings sweet hymns to the silence ("Plainest Thing," "Still Pretending") and sizzles with Muscle Shoals-fueled soul ("Shadow in the Way," "Good-Hearted Man," "Your Love Made a U-Turn.")
Lyrically, Merritt is a road-weary romantic, telling smart, hard-knock tales of love, betrayal, hope and redemption. The writing is tight, vivid and sophisticated, making the whole musical package irresistible. Think of Tambourine as a signature, like Steve Earle's Guitar Town or Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.