Tift Merritt doing well on an uphill climb

Tift Merritt believes in the redemptive power of the universe.

Two years ago — as she was turning 40, getting divorced from her husband of six years and feeling frightened and depressed — she was rewarded with boons that led to her brutally honest sixth album “Stitch of the World,” which she’s promoting on tour this week in The City.

First, she got an unexpected email (while touring in her friend Andrew Bird’s band) in which Eagles anchor Don Henley said he was covering her early ballad “Bramble Rose.” It would open his solo album “Cass County” and add surprising vocal cameos.

“It was the craziest message I’ve ever gotten, because Don went on to say that it needed to be a love triangle, and Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger were also involved. And at that point, my jaw was on the floor, so I wrote him back saying that any love triangle between him and Mick Jagger was absolutely fine with me,” she says.

Next, the Raleigh-raised artist spent several months at a friend’s sprawling ranch in Marfa, Texas, decompressing.

She developed a routine that got her back into the rhythm of composing, waking up to write every morning, then hiking the rugged surroundings each afternoon.

“Out there, it’s a mile to the main road and you can practically see into tomorrow,” she says. “It’s a really intense landscape, and I’d see coyotes and javelinas, mountain goats and deer, and all the birds. And it’s a good thing to let nature infuse your writing,”

Reinvigorated, and seeing a new beau, she returned to New York, expecting her first child but worried how motherhood would affect her livelihood of touring.

Her family welcomed her back home to Raleigh, however, where she and her daughter Jean — now a year old — currently reside with a great support system.

Additionally, her old friend Sam Beam from Iron and Wine joined her in the studio to flesh out “Stitch” confessionals such as “Icarus,” “Love Soldiers On,” and “Heartache is an Uphill Climb.” Beam, she says, helped re-focus her then-fuzzy perspective.

In retrospect, Merritt is grateful for the karma, which has given her the strength to go on.

“There’s a time in everyone’s career — no matter what your job is — where you go, ‘Oh, my gosh, I feel lost, beaten down, and none of this is making any sense,’” she says. “So it was great to finally feel like maybe my life does make sense.”


Tift Merritt
Where: Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. May 11
Contact: (415) 431-7578, www.ticketfly.com