Brandi Carlile, one of Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists to Watch in 2005” came out of nowhere with her self-titled debut two years ago and made many believe in the power of music again. She is part pop, part rock, part blues, country, and folk. Whatever you classify her as, she is always honest, always raw. She sings with the type of emotion not unlike Patsy Cline (her idol) in a voice sometimes as gigantic as Bono\'s, as clear as Celine Dion\'s.
Her debut album opens with “Follow,” a simple song that hits you immediately with a force that pulls you closer to the sound; “Follow” starts off slow and languorous, but propels into an orchestral-like chorus that emphasizes the strength of her voice. The subsequent nine tracks on this more than solid debut are equally strong: the single “Closer to You” (featured on the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants soundtrack) feels like a strange rootsy, country-meets-rock ballad that only gets better with time, “Throw it All Away” follows the structure of “Follow” (slow start, powerful end) but has a calming originality all its own, “Gone” is quietly upbeat, while “Tragedy” possesses a tone that precedes its title.
Brandi Carlile displays a variety of styles. The single, "Closer to You" was really my first foray into Carlile. Initially, I found the song hard to listen to; it sounded too busy, too odd. I was quick to classify Brandi Carlile as folk; it appeared to be the easiest option. But by my third listen of "Closer to You," I was hooked. Still, I was apprehensive--though curious--about the rest of the tracks. Listening to them, I was stunned by both the clarity and vulnerability (if you ever find yourself lying under a starry night equipped with your iPod, listen to "Throw it All Away"--the experience will be magical) of her voice, something that did not immediately come across in "Closer to You." The quality of her vocals could be attributed to having grown up in Ravensdale, a small town that she described as "the middle of nowhere" in rural Washington; she\'d spend hours upon hours perfecting her voice, a rigor that has certainly paid off.
While the core of this debut is tinged with a rootsy, folksy sound, there\'s a combination of pop and rock ("Fall Apart Again," "In My Own Eyes") that comes together nicely in a voice that is uniquely Brandi Carlile. Among the cornucopia of guitar-strapping female singer-songwriters, originality is a rare thing, but Brandi Carlile has got it.
"Brandi Carlile" is on sale July 12, 2005 from Columbia.