Friday, May 15, 2015

Brandi Carlile - The Firewatcher's Daughter (2015)

For her fifth studio album Brandi Carlile decided it was time for a change. Her subject matter remains the same, she still writes about missing her youth, family, friends, and how much they all mean to her. The difference is how these subjects are presented. On The Firewatcher's Daughter the veteran but still young artist continues to record songs with folk inclinations but she also rocks like never before and the album has a looser feel to it because everything was recorded in one take. Nothing was over rehearsed.

The twelve song album still has the Hanseroth twins by Carlile's side and they serve once again as full collaborators, not just as prominent sidemen in her band. The trio composes together and separately sharing writing credits almost equally. The only area in which the star dominates is vocally. She continues to be the lead voice on all of the songs and is the dominant personality and frontwoman of her domain.

"Mainstream Kid" has a definite punk influence and "Blood, Muscle, Skin & Bone" is loud but contains enough hooks to pull the listener into the singer's world. "The Stranger At My Door" is another rocker (it's the song where the CD's title comes from) and it descends into 60s style feedback in the coda, another very unusual touch from this pensive artist. "Things I Regret," with the great line "You can only remember what you want to forget," demands to be added to the playlists of radio stations who thrive on Americana. "The Eye," ("You can dance in a hurricane but only if you're standing in the eye") with beautiful three part harmonies is one of the album's highlights. "I Belong to You" is a straight acoustic love song and the album closes with a very moving cover of The Avett Brothers' "Murder In The City."

Fortunately, instead of playing it safe, Carlile altered her sound before her records became stale and as a result she created another excellent piece of work. For those of you who don't relish change there is still enough acoustic material and singer-songwriter rock to keep you happy.

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