I'll second Bramble Rose, and also note that just last week (I think), her second album was released--Tambourine. Haven't listened to it yet, however... It is sadly just sitting in my living room still in its wrapper...
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I have Tift Merritt's recordings and love them both. Recently, my son turned me on to the singer songwriter Mindy Smith who is a little more country and a little less rock, more in the blue grass category like Emmie Lou Harris.
Her recent and only one is also incredibly well recorded. Reminds me of some of the Elliot Scheiner discs he engineered for Jennifer Warnes. I urge you to give her a listen
I found out about Tift at a concert in Asheville NC last fall. Bruce Cockburn,Emmie Lou Harris,Patsy Griffin,and Mary Chapin Carpenter were supposed to play at the Thomas Wolf Auditorium. When we arrived to hear the show, we were told Mary Chapin Carpenter couldn't make it. They had new girl for us to check out. Tift Merrit, She stoled the show. If you see her live you will not regret it! This show was just them four with nothing but guitars, no elecrics except for microphones. It was great. Tambourine is not as good to me as Bramble Rose but, I need to give it some more time. Most of my great disk take a litte time to work on me. If I like something suddenly, it most likely doesn't last.
Get home and lo and behold TAS does a review: 4 stars for music and 2 stars for sonics for Tift's latest recording. The sonics part is about right but 4 stars for the performance: if that is true then any retreaded Hank is 100 stars. In the same issue they give 4 stars to an anthology of the Animals. Tift 4 Animals 4 does not ring true to me.