Brandi Carlile Brandi Carlile

[Red Ink/Columbia; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: alt. country, folk-pop, americana
Others: Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Shelby Lynne, Shawn Colvin

Twenty-three-year-old Brandi Carlile's debut album is filled with delicious, hook-laden country-pop songs, many of which sound like they could've been written by someone twice Carlile's age. Beyond that, even, the most impressive aspect of Carlile's ten-track debut is her powerful voice. Vocally, she recalls veteran songstresses Neko Case and the late Patsy Cline, wildly commanding and confident. The easy lilt of "What Can I Say" smoothly carries its singsong lyrics ornamented with harmonies and rhythmic percussive brushes. Rootsy guitar is a constant undercurrent to Carlile's mostly commonplace lyrics, and electric guitar and orchestral touches enter in all the right places. But if the vocals, songwriting, and arrangement are just about right, the production is annoyingly clean. The record boasts Pro Tools production in a home studio with a final once-over by John Goodmanson, mostly known for his work with indie acts like Blonde Redhead and Sleater Kinney. The result is a pesky sameness that likens Carlile to the Michelle Branches of corporate rock, the land where unrealistic perfection is valued over truthful artistic expression.

1. Follow
2. What Can I Say
3. Closer to You
4. Throw it all Away
5. Happy
6. Someday Never Comes
7. Fall Apart Again
8. In My Own Eyes
9. Gone
10. Tragedy

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