Listen Up: Wednesday, August 31, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile (Columbia Records)

By Jennifer Robertson

Growing up in rural Washington, Brandi Carlile learned the fundamentals of the Americana version of singer-songwriting. Raised in the middle of nowhere, what else was she going to do? At age 23, Carlile possesses an experienced, if-we-knew-any-better, worldly voice. She captures the velocity of Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano, the rootsy hesitation of Bonnie Raitt, and the everywoman familiarity of Patsy Cline. Carlile believes in a simple mantra: A good song begins with a simple guitar and vocals. But there’s nothing simple about her.

At age 8, she had tasted the nectar of the stage by performing on the Northeast’s version of the Grand Ole Opry. Her song of choice? Roseanne Cash’s “Tennessee Flat-top Box.” That gives you an idea where her heart lies. By her early teens, she was locking herself in her room, wailing at the top of her lungs. Piano, guitar, and maturity soon led her to her accompanists, twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth. And a couple of weeks ago, she released her self-titled Columbia Records debut. Where did she record it? The living room of her log cabin in — where else? — rural Washington.

Her conversational lyrics limn the universal themes of heartbreak and soul-searching, love lost and identity found. She speaks volumes for those who know how to listen: “I promise there’s a down side / Something you can’t see ... I don’t really wanna be seen / In my own eyes.”

It’s been a big year for the artist. By the time her debut hit shelves, Carlile was already considered a bona fide songwriter, her name casually listed alongside some of her greatest influences: James Taylor, Dave Mathews, Jonny Lang — all of whom have shared a stage with her. She’s being touted by Rolling Stone as one of the top 10 artists to watch this year. And if that isn’t enough, her debut makes for some pretty good listening. —


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