They say that good things come in small packages, and this CD would seem to be the musical proof of that statement – certainly there are few more unassuming releases in Bernard Herrmann's output. Joy in the Morning is one of the more obscure movies ever scored by Herrmann and, as is pointed out in the notes by Christopher Husted, it was also the composer's last successfully completed major studio project, coming just ahead of the calamity that attended his work for Alfred Hitchcock on Torn Curtain. It has fallen between the cracks across the years, principally because the movie itself was a good deal less stellar than most of the Hitchcock projects (or, for that matter, the Ray Harryhausen projects) with which Herrmann distinguished himself in the early/mid-'60s. This CD is astonishingly good, however, being not only a close cousin to Herrmann's music for Hitchcock's Marnie (1964) but also containing thematic material in common with his clarinet quintet Souvenirs du Voyage, and string writing that also recalls his work for Vertigo and even Psycho, as well as writing for the reeds and winds that have echoes as far back as Beneath the 12-Mile Reef and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Tift Merritt has become unexpectedly (and thankfully) prolific since she signed with Fantasy Records in 2008, after going four years without releasing a record. See You on the Moon is her third album in as many years, and from the first track, the gentle and soul-infused love song "Mixtape," she demonstrates that she can maintain solid quality control at this pace and does so with ease. See You on the Moon is a more spare and intimate-sounding set than 2008's Another Country, as if she learned a bit about the value of concision with her 2009 solo acoustic live set Buckingham Solo, but Merritt clearly works well with others (the backing musicians are uniformly great, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket contributes some solid harmonies on "Feel of the World"), and while the arrangements wisely avoid cluttering the clean landscapes of her melodies, producer and engineer Tucker Martine gives the recordings a full-bodied sound even when the performances are purposefully simple. As on Merritt's other albums, the real key to See You on the Moon lies in her songs and her voice, and both are in splendid form here.