The second nicest thing about Brandi Carlile and her new, self-titled album is that so far, no one has been able to put Brandi's style and sound into a neat little marketing package. You can almost hear the sound of record executives banging their heads against the wall, wondering 'Is she pop? Is she country? Is she alt-country? What the hell do we call it?' Probably the most telling observation that can be made is that Brandi Carlile sounds like a folksy version of Norah Jones.
That's a compliment, and that leads to the nicest thing about Brandi, insofar as her new album is concerned: There's a studied and strong musicianship behind each lyric and note. Each song does it's best to wonder around and outside of any preconceived mold, finding wholeness of sound and content in it's own genre.
Of course music has been around for longer than marketing, and in that sense Carlile's style isn't new exactly, but in the age of American Idol's and lip-synchers, it is refreshing.
And you might argue that refreshing is a better description for Carlile than "folksy Norah Jones," though not quite so telling. Because after listening to a song or two from Columbia's newest little starlet (and one of The Rolling Stone's '10 Artists to Watch') you really do walk away feeling refreshed. And in a musical world of overwhelming teen angst, that's a great feeling.
Despite the downer titles to many of the 10 songs on this first major label release, the purity of Carlile's voice won't let the feel of the album be anything but uplifting. Stop by her website or check out a sampler of any one of her tracks to see for yourself.
You can listen to the album the whole way through, and while I wasn't too into the final track, Tragedy, I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite out of the previous nine. Check out 'Happy,' for that Norah Jones feel, or 'Throw it all away' for probably the most representative track on the album.