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I went through Tift Merritt's new one while reading John Glatt's Lost and Found — that's the true story of Jayce Lee Dugard, who, should you not recall, was/is the girl kidnapped off the streets of South Lake Tahoe in 1991, freed in 2009 from a kidnapper who'd kept her prisoner and fathered two daughters by her. Jayce's kidnapper and his wife are still in court. Jayce's back, now, age 30, with her rightful family plus her daughters, who didn't even legally exist at first, in tow. Shortly after that reunion, she asked for the pets from the house where she was kept hostage.

Merritt seemed an optimal compliment to this dread. Her songs find many ways to affirm strength, to affirm passion, in rich but never overblown measure, filling the glass running time after time with that right pour of elixir. Doesn't hurt, of course, how she made "Mixtape" a sop to music geeks, referencing all the tune choices, and rewinds, and compositional fetishes particular to those magnetic love letters. No matter that (almost) nobody mixtapes anymore — that's her confidence in this relationship, disco strings wowing and fluttering behind her tough prettiness.

Then, "After Today," with its "sentencing," "chains," and someone called "Sweet Emily" who's the only one that matters. What matters sonicwise: suddenly, all this resolve arched sinister. Every damn thing lost and no matter since some damn thing was all worth it. That could be Jayce. That could be the father of her children. That's that scary.

  • Album: See You on the Moon (2010)
  • Artist: Tift Merritt
  • Label: Fantasy
  • Songs: (1) Mixtape (2) Engine to Turn (3) The Things That Everybody Does (4) Six More Days of Rain (5) Feel of the World (6) Never Talk About It (7) All the Reasons We Don't Have to Fight (8) Live Till You Die (9) Papercut (10) See You on the Moon (11) Danny's Song (12) After Today
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