In 2002, North Carolina singer Tift Merritt's debut CD Bramble Rose, firmly rooted in the realm of alternative country, received enormous critical acclaim. Her new CD, Tambourine, still has a hefty dose of the alt-country sound, but it also branches out to blues, rock, pop -- and even some Memphis soul. She's called it a "rock soul throwdown."
Tambourine was produced by George Drakoulias, who has worked with the Jayhawks, Tom Petty and the Black Crowes, and Gary Louris of the Jayhawks was among those who played backup.
Less tangible help came from Merritt's musical influences, which include powerful singers such as Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Emmylou Harris.
She spoke to Sheilah Kast in between tour dates, during a visit to member station KUOW in Seattle. Merritt says she wants to set this CD apart from her somewhat quieter debut effort. She was shooting, she says, for something "soulful and genuine in a way that was not quiet and introspective."