Born in Ravensdale, WA and now based in Seattle, WA, singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile can trace the origins of her music career to when she performed Johnny Cash’s “Tennessee Flat Top Box” with her mother, Teresa when she was 8. By the time Brandi Carlile was 15, she had been playing the guitar and started writing her own songs, and after being diagnosed with A.D.D, she dropped out of school to fully focus on pursing a career in music.
Carlile’s career started in earnest when she began performing in Seattle with twin brothers, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, who are often referred to as “The Twins.” Carlile and the Hanseroth brothers won the attention of Columbia Records for a sound that employs elements of pop, country, folk, alt country, rock, the blues, indie rock and several others in a rather effortless fashion paired with some gorgeous, Crosby, Stills and Nash-like harmonies between Carlile and The Twins. With such a relatively difficult to pigeon-hole sound, it shouldn’t be surprising that Carlile has publicly claimed the likes of k.d. lang, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, Elton John, Freddie Mercury and others as influences on her vocal style.
Her debut self-titled effort and her sophomore effort, The Story, produced by the great T Bone Burnett, were released to critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, who had named her one of their “Ten Artists to Watch” in 2005. And in addition to that, she has toured with the likes of Shawn Colvin, Tori Amos, Chris Issak, Ray LaMontagne, Johnny Lang, the Indigo Girls, and a long list of others. She’s also collaborated with Elton John, on her Grammy Award-winning album, Give Up The Ghost, produced by Rick Rubin. But along with the all of the accolades, Carlile has achieved the sort of commercial success that should make her a household name, as Give Up The Ghost landed at number 26 on the Billboard Top 100, and her live album, Live at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony landed at number 14 on the Billboard Top Rock charts.
Her forthcoming album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter is slated for a March 3, 2015 release through ATO Records here in the States and Maple Music up in Canada, and the album was interestingly enough recorded almost entirely as first takes with little rehearsal, and it gives the material an urgency as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “The Eye.” Known for sparse arrangements that feature the harmonies between Carlile and the Hanseroth brothers, accompanied by guitar, the single is so intimately recorded that you hear each vocalist’s breath as they pause, and in the more emotional lines of the song, you’ll actually hear Carlile’s voice quiver oh so very slightly. Sure, the song in question is carefully crafted and thought out, but it discusses the strangeness of encountering a distant past in the all too very present with a devastating honesty, vulnerability and clarity – the sort that is just uncommon in contemporary pop or any other genre, really. It comes from a very real, lived-in experience.
I can’t put into words how beautiful I think this song is but I’d argue that it’s probably one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in at least a year, and i’ll predict that in about 15 years, you’ll hear artists making attempts to cover it.