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Rising Stars [Issue #17]
Brandi Carlile: Beyond Compare
By Lynne Bronstein
Brandi Carlile (CD Red Ink)


Critics around Seattle have compared Brandi Carlile  to Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, and Bruce Springsteen. Like them, Brandi records for Columbia Records, but she doesn’t see herself as a “female version” of any of them.

 “I think our music’s a little darker,” she says in regard to the Springsteen comparison. “But it’s definitely a compliment.”
    
Maybe the comparisons are due to Brandi’s age - she’s only  23, but  she has put in years of performing at clubs, parties, sports bars, and showcases. She’s sung backup for an Elvis impersonator, appeared at the legendary Lilith Fair, and made a splash at this year’s South By Southwest music showcase. Her debut album is a collection of gracefully arranged, warmly acoustic songs that would formerly have been described as “contemporary folk,” but have the modern perspective of alternative rock. While the guitar/bass accompaniments by Brandi and Tim and Phil Hanseroth lull the listener into a mood of intimacy, Brandi sings lyrics like, “Maybe someday when you’re old and gray / and your hair falls out and your tattoos fade / You might see me standing / Hat in hand” (from “Someday  Never Comes.”)
  
 Brandi Carlile grew up in the small town of Ravensdale, near Seattle. She developed an early interest in country music and remembers performing “Tennessee Flat-top Box” at the age of 8. With a friend, Amber Lee, whom she commemorates in the song “Happy,” she formed a rock band when both girls were in their early teens. It was with Amber that Brandi also joined up with the Elvis impersonator, the two girls creating their own choreography while singing.
    
When Brandi became serious about launching her career, she turned to the women’s rock community. She credits a conference held by Seattle-based Rockrgrl magazine for teaching her about the music business. She teamed up with the Hanseroth brothers, who also had a rock background, and played every gig she could get. Hard work paid off when Columbia’s Tim Devine received Brandi’s demo from her manager, was impressed, and came to see her in Los Angeles when she opened for James Taylor. “He called me the next day [while] I was at Disneyland!” Brandi jokes.
  
 As an acoustic performer, Brandi Carlile may be in a minority among Seattle artists. But she notes:  “In our sets there’s anything from me sitting down with an acoustic guitar to all of us jumping and screaming.”
    
Someday, critics maybe comparing new artists to Brandi Carlile.


Brandi Carlile
Red Ink

Beyond Compare Brandi Carlile Brandi Carlile


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