She’s kind of a big deal in her native North Carolina, but the singer-songwriter Tift Merritt hasn’t achieved national name recognition. The themes on her latest album, See You on the Moon, may not get her there: She sings about juvenile incarceration and the death of a childhood friend, heavy topics that don’t lend themselves to radio-ready flash. Her genre-hopping take on Americana can be tough to pin down, but with incisive lyrics and uncluttered melodies, it’s quality stuff however you classify it. Merritt lives in New York these days, but, like, say, James Taylor, she’s kept her Carolina roots integral to her music. In her home state, it’s illegal to sing off-key—seriously—but with her lilting soprano, Merritt is every bit the law-abiding citizen.
MERRITT PERFORMS WITH JASON COLLETT AT 7:30 P.M. AT THE BIRCHMERE, 3701 MOUNT VERNON AVE., ALEXANDRIA. $25. (703) 549-7500.