In her previous appearances at The Linda in 2008 and 2009, singer-songwriter Tift Merritt was all by herself singing and playing acoustic guitar and piano. This time around, however, she brought a band with her.
Released just a week earlier, Merritt’s new album, “See You On The Moon,” is a full-band outing complete with horns, strings and a Hammond B3 organ.
Drummer Zeke Hutchins (who also happens to be Merritt’s husband) and bassist Jay Brown are both on the recording, but in concert at The Linda, she bolstered the sound with the addition of exceptional guitarist Eric Heywood, whose lengthy resume includes stints with the Pretenders, Alejandro Escovedo and Richard Buckner, to name just a few of his former employers.
To hear this alt-country songbird in any context is a treat. For those who just wanted to hear her sing and play solo, she accommodated them by sending the band off-stage for a few songs, including “Something to Me.” However, for those who like a fuller sound surrounding her voice, well, they got that too…in spades.
Either way Tift Merritt’s intensity and vocal prowess ruled the evening. Heywood’s occasional pedal-steel guitar sounds pumped up the night with a country music feel, while his electric guitar lines gave the music plenty of rock & roll verve.
Opener and sometime Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett performed a moving and humorous half-hour set. After stating that all Canadians are taught how to make love in a canoe as a national rite of passage, the Toronto-based singer-songwriter finished his all to short performance with a smoldering and heart-felt original, “My Daddy Was a Rock ‘n Roller.”
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Michael Eck’s review in The Times Union
An excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review in The Daily Gazette: “Any artist who so beautifully combines vulnerability and strength, who boasts the best of Reba McEntire, Shawn Colvin and Chrissy Hynde, should be a bigger star. But then, it would become impossible to see Merritt open her soul or rock out in venues as cozy as The Linda – where she and her crackerjack band were fabulous on Friday.”