Chris Merritt Goes Big

In Indie, Pop, Soul on September 10, 2009 at 11:54 am


I’m going to go big on this one, or I might as well go home.

I now know Chris Merritt. I’ve played a few shows with him, spent at least minimal chat time, talked about the Pixies and his commercial pilot dad’s temper and the lawnmower Chris had to push around back in the day. He’s told me that I am somewhat of an enigma to him, which is ironic because he’s still somewhat of an enigma to me. He can seem moody and distant. He can be engaging and captivating. He can perform his intricately arranged songs with his eyes closed, or he could forget the words to (or how to play a part of) my favorite song.  These are the burdens that come with being as talented as this young man. When you’ve written over 1,000 songs and you’re under 30, it’s probably not easy to keep it all straight. There are only so many notes on a keyboard after all.

Here’s the big part. Chris Merritt has written more great songs at 26 than Ben Folds ever has or ever will.

I’m a huge Folds fan. He’s dripped his sweat on me in the orchestra pit of a show at Virginia Tech. I felt the hair creep up on my neck when watching him play with the West Australia Symphony at Perth (on DVD, not live, unfortunately). I cry when I listen to Whatever and Ever Amen. And god forbid if I say aloud that he could hardly hold Merritt’s jockstrap. This is sacrilege. And Chris is probably going to be mad at me now, but the cat’s out of the bag my friends.

Chris’ main “flaw” is that he may be too talented. There’s a lot going on in that head. There is some inhuman itch in those fingertips that must tap a new melody upon every rise of the sun. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the good from the blah when you’re prolific and alluring and everyone tells you that everything is amazing.  How does Chris take criticism? Does every track cut make the album? These are things I wonder when I see double albums and collections getting dropped out of the sky every 6 months. But make no mistake, there are treasures within.

It’s important to know that Chris Merritt will probably never be as popular as Ben Folds (deserving or no) and he’s probably tired of the comparison anyway. All I care about are these things: He plays piano. His heart resides firmly and permanently on his sleeve.  His melodies and harmonies will move you. He deserves to be heard. Virginia is for Hoverers is as good a place to start as any. It’s mostly amazing. It’s as irrelevantly flawed as we all are, and totally perfect in its own ways. Musicians like Chris Merritt are the reason I started this blog.

I’ve been big and bold, if not rambling and incoherent so I’ll end on another big one. Maybe not everything Chris touches turns to gold. Just mostly everything.

She Wolf
I Don’t See You Here
[from Virginia is for Hoverers (Part 1)|buy]

If your interest is piqued in the slightest, you should visit his site and listen to more of his fantastic catalog, including (in my opinion) his masterpiece to this point, Pixie and the Bear (a double-motherloving-album), which I reviewed here.

  1. You’re right! This is a great review! I purchased this album immediately upon reading and I can’t agree with you more!

    Mr. Merritt is practically a clone of Ben Folds. What I’ve always wanted was to find another musician willing to produce more music more often than the hard-to-track Folds. It’s hard not to compare the two, despite Merritt’s differing melodic styles as well as his highly diversified sound. At the end of the day, a guy singing with a piano is a guy singing with a piano.

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