Once upon a time, an unknown artist named Brandi Carlile put out an album entitled The Story. Even saying her name does not really ring any bells, since Carlile and her music have been quietly sitting in the corner, waiting for people to discover them. Unfortunately for the Washington native, her fabulous voice and poetic lyrics will only be enjoyed by those who take the time to seek her out. Unlike many artists, Carlile is not in your face with reality shows and other self-promotional schemes; she relies on word-of-mouth to expand her fan base. On her sophomore release, The Story, Carlile proves her staying power through remarkable creativity. With music that some have called “country-meets-Radiohead,” Carlile proves that she can toy with different genres of music and let her voice wander from crooning to crackling while still creating a piece of art.
While most artists fall into the trap of recording an over-produced sophomore follow-up, Carlile and her crew recorded the tracks directly to tape, many with only one take. Therefore, listeners can hear the little flaws, such as her voice breaking as it reaches for the high note on the title track.
The Story begins with “Late Morning Lullaby,” a track that immediately shows that Carlile’s story will be packed with compelling lyrics and an equally potent voice.
On the title track, the singer slightly breaks away from the blues-folk sound that defines the rest of the album and experiments with a Melissa Etheridge-like sound. Complete with electric guitars as opposed to her usual acoustic, listeners can hear every little break in Carlile’s raw voice as she throws her soul into every note she sings.
“Turpentine” is where listeners get to see Carlile the crooner. With a voice that is often compared to the likes of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, Carlile works with a falsetto on this track as she sings about a relationship that has reached its end but continues out of habit.
While the entire album highlights itself, standouts include “My Song” and “Until I Die,” where critics have dubbed the 24-year-old a “female Jeff Buckley.”
Carlile’s Story is very dark and very heavy, and while she tells her tale beautifully, the album does need a little ray of sunshine to lighten up the sometimes overly-somber mood. However, her lyrics seem wise beyond her years and her voice is honest and soulful.
While some fans say that they prefer Carlile’s self-titled debut, it is near impossible to find a fan (or even a critic for that matter) that will say this album is not fantastic. Carlile proves herself as a recording artist, musician, writer and singer. She does not push her music on the public and does things her own way – as it should be.
The Story is not the last that people will hear from Brandi Carlile; it is obvious that this album is just a chapter of what is yet to come.