Somewhere in the musical landscape where the female pop vocal of Sheryl Crow
meets classic songwriters like James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and even Jeff
Buckley, you will find singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile. Don’t be fooled by the
cute girl on the cover of her self-titled debut—Carlile might look like she’s
barely old enough to vote, but when you hear her smooth and sultry voice, the
complete picture of this young woman as budding musical artist becomes clearer.
Her songs have the depth of someone twice her age, weaving interesting melodies
around lyrics that mainly portray love and heartbreak. Vocally, Carlile idolizes
the legendary Patsy Cline, and the influence is evident as she moves between
sweet falsetto and bluesy growl.
“Follow” starts out like a Bette Midler-esque soundtrack piece, but melodically
and vocally launch into something more akin to the aforementioned Buckley. The
swaying “What Can I Say” and the galloping “Closer To You” are rootsy, Americana
type songs that could easily cross over onto the pop charts. “Happy” is a track
whose title might fool you, because it’s really a sad, powerful acoustic song
about lost love. The emotive “Fall Apart Again” has a post-Lilith Fair modern
rock bent (does anyone remember Bree Sharp?) and is gut wrenching and beautiful
at the same time. The songwriting party doesn’t stop there—the darker “In My Own
Eyes” and “Tragedy” are also standouts.
It’s easy to picture the execs at Columbia Records sitting in a conference room,
knowing that they have an extreme talent like Brandi Carlile on their hands, yet
not knowing exactly how to market her. Hopefully she will get to jump from adult
alternative to the pop charts, because with the right marketing juice, Carlile
is an artist that can have mass appeal and a long career. And the best part is
that, as you listen to this innocent young woman sing and ache, you get the
feeling she might not even realize the depth of her own talent yet.