After becoming one of alt-country's great female hopefuls, the twang-loving, acoustic-guitar-strumming Tift Merritt is drifting away from her acclaimed sound. On her third CD, Another Country, she competently mixes elements of folk, rock, and soul embracing her inner Joni Mitchell on sparse lullabies (''Keep You Happy''), then leading a brass charge on bluesy numbers (''Tell Me Something True''). As for her country roots? There's the occasional splash of lap-steel to appease fans, but not nearly enough for the diehards among them. B-
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