Tift Merritt has become unexpectedly (and thankfully) prolific since she signed with Fantasy Records in 2008, after going four years without releasing a record. See You on the Moon is her third album in as many years, and from the first track, the gentle and soul-infused love song "Mixtape," she demonstrates that she can maintain solid quality control at this pace and does so with ease. See You on the Moon is a more spare and intimate-sounding set than 2008's Another Country, as if she learned a bit about the value of concision with her 2009 solo acoustic live set Buckingham Solo, but Merritt clearly works well with others (the backing musicians are uniformly great, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket contributes some solid harmonies on "Feel of the World"), and while the arrangements wisely avoid cluttering the clean landscapes of her melodies, producer and engineer Tucker Martine gives the recordings a full-bodied sound even when the performances are purposefully simple. As on Merritt's other albums, the real key to See You on the Moon lies in her songs and her voice, and both are in splendid form here; Merritt has a lovely natural instrument, but she never relies on beauty for its own sake, letting a range of emotional shadings color the tunes, and with a subtle catch in her voice or a bend in her pitch, she can break your heart and mend it again moments later. And Merritt writes about the pains and satisfactions of love with an eloquence and articulate simplicity that will draw you in if you give her half a chance; "Papercut" is as telling a metaphor of a hurtful relationship as anyone has conjured in a while, and "Mixtape" is not only lovely but should earn her the loyalty of analog-loving music geeks around the world. (Merritt also includes two well-chosen covers, a forceful take on Emitt Rhodes' "Live Till You Die" and a version of Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song" that cuts the treacle of the best-known recordings while maintaining its emotional power.) There's a modesty in Tift Merritt's music that makes it more compelling than a lot of artists who make a grand show of their joy and/or grief, and See You on the Moon finds Merritt weaving her spell as effectively as ever; it's marvelous music well worth your time and attention.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming