Intrinsic to much American music is a universal wanderlust. We’ve all felt that itchy, urging restlessness to hit the road, the kind that drops everything and only looks back through sunglassed eyes and rearview mirrors. Does it stem from the expansion and proliferation of the interstate highway systems, to Kerouac and the On The Road mentality, or even to Manifest Destiny, Lewis & Clark, and westward expansion? Whatever the case, being out on the road feels like a characteristic of being American, whether or not that’s entirely true. Being on the road is clearly as much about the trip, trials, and tribulation as it is about the destination. What doesn’t break us, makes us stronger.

Some music is born and bred from a pioneering spirit. Such is the case with Tift Merritt‘s fifth full length album Traveling Alone, released in 2012 by the Yep Roc Records label. On the record, Merritt discards the baggage of studio sheen and magic, par for the course tricks of the trade we are used to hearing, for an economy of sound; a spacious sparsity that strips her style back to its simplest and most elemental pieces. It’s bittersweet, raw, and beautiful, but also hopeful. Inspired by her duo tour with guitarist Eric Heywood, Merritt revisited the songs of Traveling Alone, as well as covers, with an entirely acoustic appendix Traveling Companion.

Before their show at World Cafe Live on October 15th, 2013, the duo formation stopped by the WXPN Performance Studio to record tracks from Traveling Alone and Traveling Companion.