At a Hiss Golden Messenger show last year, front man MC Taylor said of Tift Merritt (who stood by his side providing backing vocals), “This woman has the kind of voice I want to write songs for.” And though her voice wasn’t alone on stage that night, longtime fans of Merritt’s understood. Her lived-in, honeyed singing is wholly hers – she sounds like no one else. Her new record, Stitch of the World, is a stunning display of Merritt’s natural ability, and her ability to tap into the raw, often challenging parts of being a human being.
Merritt created Stitch of the World while pregnant, and whether intentionally or not, there’s that unmistakable cusp of change, a mix of fear and hopefulness, threaded through each song. She writes about openness, inclusion, doing the right thing, staying true to herself, and putting love first, all messages that hold a particular importance in this strange time of unrest. The title track is an enchanting, haunting song with traditional folk roots about finding your place in the bigger picture and going with the flow. It’s one of the darkest, most compelling tunes on the album.
“My Boat” is a song about friendship and support, as is “Love Soldiers On”, and both are gauzy and warm. “Icarus” is as light as air, practically taking flight as its mythological subject suggests. But the most beautiful track finds Merritt collaborating with folk artist Sam Beam and is one of three songs she sings with him (Beam also produces). “Wait for Me” has one of those choruses that will stick with you no matter what. It’s intimate and fragile, a love song that feels fresh and new. Merritt’s vocals are breathy and light, but there’s an underlying sense that she could really belt it out if she wanted. The beauty lies in how well she controls it, offering little bursts with a hint of rasp, and then quickly retreating back to a much softer sound. It is positively hypnotic.