Nanci Griffith started out more of a folkie, but she made the trek from Austin to Nashville and hit gold with Last of the True Believers, after scoring a minor country hit with the title track of her previous album, Once in a Very Blue Moon. Within a few years she abandoned country for dips into rock and pop before returning more to her folk roots with her last few albums (albeit with a high quotient of strings-abetted numbers). While country and roots music are clearly close to her heart, Tift Merritt's second album, Tambourine, adds Memphis soul to the mix with horns and Hammond B-3, as well as previously unseen rock verve. With the effortless warmth of her vocals and her canny melodies, it's not difficult to imagine her shoehorned in a pop direction, though with as far as she's come in such a short time there isn't much you can't imagine for her. The two team up for a show at UNC's Memorial Hall Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28-$75; call the box office at 843-3333.
IWTDI's craftsmanship has steadily increased, tightening the screws on a brimming, bracing power-pop sound. The new volume and frisson on this stunning seven-song EP builds on their sound without razing the room.