A native of North Carolina by way of Texas, Merritt drew much critical praise and attention upon the release of her first album, "Bramble Rose," in 2002. The maturity of that record seemed surprising for a newcomer, but Merritt had already been honing her craft for several years on the North Carolina club circuit. By early 2000 Merritt and her work with bands in that area had garnered enough notice that another North Carolinian, Ryan Adams, brought her to the attention of his label at the time, Lost Highway, paving the way for the release of "Bramble Rose."
Since that time, Merritt has released a number of records, all marked by the strong songwriting and quality musicianship for which she is known. Throughout her career she's covered a lot of musical territory, from alt-country rock to blues-infused twang to heart-worn ballads, usually within the same record. Yet at the heart of it all is her voice -- powerful and clear, capable of both strength and tenderness. And her songwriting is as formidable as her voice; her songs are always as personal and straightforward as the woman herself. Merritt has long been praised by friends and collaborators as a woman without pretentiousness or affectation; she is the rare artist whose songs are as honest as the artist herself.
Merritt's latest album, "Traveling Alone," was released in 2012, and as the title suggests, it is a meditation on the joys and sorrows of finding one's own way in the world. As solid as anything she has produced to date, "Traveling Alone" proves, now ten years down her road, that the path she's chosen has been a fruitful one indeed.
All photos by Louis Kwok.