Tift Merritt at Visulite Theatre tonight (8/16/13)

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TIFT MERRITT
A truly genre-less singer-songwriter-guitarist triple threat, Tift Merritt has been thumbnailed as: Writes like Lucinda Williams, sings like Emmylou Harris. Yet increasingly, that description has grown outmoded. A product of Raleigh's late-'90s alt-country scene, Merritt has progressed through ringing country rock, Dusty in Memphis-styled soul and stripped-down Americana, all while sounding uniquely like herself. Amid a host of influences, the most telling is author Eudora Welty. Like Welty, Merritt is a Southern woman writing about relationships, the importance of place and the human heart in conflict. With her critical breakthrough, the 2012 LP Traveling Alone, Merritt honed her song craft to weightless melodies supporting heavily weighted emotions. The resiliency of her spare yet luxurious approach is displayed on Night, Merritt's 2013 pairing with Julliard-trained pianist Simone Dinnerstein. Sounding nothing like classical or folk, that luminescent LP is a spare and spacious pop gem. Whatever she tries, Merritt continues to sharpen her focus and dig deeper, putting her on the same path as soul-searching individualists like Leonard Cohen. $17. Aug. 16, 8 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. 704-358-9200.

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