Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Last month, my country music lovin' cousin suggested a band to me that I might like, and consequently I wrote about Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers here on my blog because they really are seriously great! Now it's my turn to return the favor. Ames, if you haven't heard any Brandi Carlile, check her out...

I have her last two studio albums (there are several others as well), and I like Give Up the Ghost from 2010 a little better than the most recent, Bear Creek. Give Up the Ghost was produced by Rick Rubin and features Elton John, Amy Ray (The Indigo Girls), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). Her album before Ghost, The Story, which I don't have yet, was produced by T-Bone Burnett, so she certainly has got a lot of industry power-hitters pulling for her.

This performance on Austin City Limits is mostly songs from Give Up the Ghost, all of which are so great, but if you only watch one thing here, skip to the end (19:10) and catch her cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Stellar.

And here's a more recent live in-studio taping of her band at NPR doing newer songs from Bear Creek with a string section. Bear Creek seems a little more country than Ghost, but all her music is fairly genre-defying, in my opinion. Maybe it's just "singer-songwriter" like all those people from the 70's; like James Taylor and Cat Stevens and Carole King - but more rocking, and with a band. Maybe more Sheryl Crow/Melissa Ethridge/ Bonnie Raitt honky-tonk with a Patsy Cline voice. Whatever.

I first heard of her listening to Gill Landry's song "The One Night Hotel" from Piety and Desire. Her voice was just so startling and beautiful, I had to look it up and see who was singing with him.

Then I happened to hear about her singing "Country Roads" with Emmylou Harris on The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver, and was again amazed by her voice.

This isn't really my usual "type" of music. I'm not big on lady singers who belt out songs about love (I wasn't quite sure at first that Adele was worth the money, either), and Mike is definitely not convinced yet. But she's got enough Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou in her to make me put her albums on and sing along in the car at top volume. Sold!

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