Lately, we've seen this generation's male class of gritty Southern storytellers define themselves — Justin Townes Earle, Hayes Carl, Cory Branan — but the contemporary Lucinda Williams or Emmy Lou has been harder to pinpoint, and Tift Merritt may just be the leading lady that alt-country needs. With a sweetness in her steady and sure delivery, matched with lyrics that are as unpredictable and free as some of those North Carolina backroads that she grew up on, Merritt is a modern-day hybrid of tough and tender. And expect some twists and turns from her backing band, who will let loose with rockin' guitar solos, jazz-infused rhythms, and several other genre-defying arrangements.
The Ark, 316 S. Main St. $20. 8pm. 734-761-1800. www.theark.org. —SR