With each new album Brandi Carlile seems to find a new way to impress. Her latest and greatest, Give Up The Ghost touts heartbreaking lyrics, perfect harmonies and spine-tingling vocals delivered as only Brandi can.
Of course, guests like Elton John, Amy Ray and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) and production by Rick Rubin only add to the wonderful sound created by her core band: Josh Neumann (cello) and the twins, Phil (bass) and Tim (guitar) Hanseroth.
Opening the record is Looking Out with Amy Ray providing harmonies. And as the instrumentation builds around the chorus the tension in lines like “Some people get religion/Some people get the truth/I never get the truth” melts away into hope.
Dreams is a “not so innocent” rocker and the radio-ready first single from the album complete with a few of her hallmark raw screams.
On Caroline, Brandi got to work with her hero, Elton John, who added his signature piano and subtle harmonies to the foot-stomping, banjo-infused number.
Many of the songs, like the upbeat Dying Day, a traveler’s love song about life on the road and the gentle break-up tune, Oh Dear will be familiar to those who have seen Brandi and the band live in the last few years.
If There Was No You is a fun ditty she says she wrote as “12-year-old Brandi” and is a nice departure from her usual angst-ridden material.
Still, there are some counterpoints to the overall tempo of the record including That Year, a song she wrote after making peace with a high school friend’s suicide, Pride & Joy and Before It Breaks.
Give Up The Ghost is somewhere between pop, acoustic rock and country, but what’s more important is that the music is honest, emotional and pure – these songs sound as beautiful entirely unplugged (like the live performances of “Dying Day”) as they do on the record with all of the orchestration and production.
Brandi and the band are out on the road for the rest of the month, check BrandiCarlile.com for dates and more info.