Tift Merritt Credit: Courtesy the artist

Tift Merritt wrote the songs on her new album, Stitch of the World (Yep Roc), as she attempted to wind down after a divorce, several years of touring both on her own and as a member of Andrew Bird’s band, and the clustered releases of several records, mostly under her name but sometimes with collaborators such as classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein. She retreated to a ranch in Marfa, Texas, and to her own cabin in California to ruminate on a life bereft of certainty, eventually producing a luminescent ten-song collection that embraces the mystery, resilience, and rebirth of life. “Heartache Is an Uphill Climb” is about realizing that counting the steps and days it takes to recover from romantic hurt is the wrong path, while “My Boat” adapts writing by Raymond Carver for its lyrics about taking solace in the camaraderie and company of friends; “Proclamation Blues” is an ebullient carpe diem, with Merritt expressing raw desire in the face of ambivalence. Working with a top-flight band that includes Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam (who coproduced with Merritt), guitarist Marc Ribot, pedal-steel whiz Eric Heywood, and drummer Jay Bellerose, Merritt leaves herself space for her gorgeous, honeyed, soulful voice to soar and trickle. Sometimes she and her band could open up more and let things rip, but Merritt inhabits a specific, generous, and gentle world here, and I’m happy to get lost in it.   v