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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Brandi Carlile

Bear Creek

Review by Mark Johnson

This is a wonderful album full of mixed genres, ranging from country rock, blues, soft rock and folk. It is filled with Carlile’s soft, beautiful and, at times, powerful voice. The music is excellent. She did a great job on this solo album. If you’re a fan this is a must have. If not, once you hear this, you will be.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hard Way Home

This opens with some excellent guitar, and Carlile singing bluesy and soulfully. The track then picks up with an upbeat tempo and rhythm with banjo and keys joining in to temper the tough lyrics and subject matter.

Raise Hell

“Raise Hell” opens with some great guitar and banjo, with Carlile delivering excellent vocals - the best on the album, in fact. Yes, this is the best track on the album. Powerful foot stomping and clapping ensue, filling the air with the power of human warmth and emotion. The guitar work is amazing and if you can sit still through this, you probably could sit through thermal nuclear war. “Oh…now ring that bell!”

Save Part of Yourself

Here is a soft, tender, foot stomping track reminiscent of some of my favorite memories of the ‘70s Rod Stewart era classics. It features beautiful support of mandolin, chorus, and clapping.

That Wasn’t Me

This is another beautiful "hope overcomes despair" song that will capture your heart and hopefully make you think about how you act and how it may affect the lives of others. It’s basically a wonderful public apology from which we can all learn during these challenging times.

Keep Your Heart Young

Beautiful acoustic guitar and Johnny Cash like vocals from Carlile open Keep Your Heart Young.” The lyrical line, she “packs her snowballs nice and tight and in the middle put rocks,” highlights the kind of fun Carlile has with this whimsical song about keeping life and its bad turns in the right perspective.  Soft mandolin helps to add to the warmth of the piece. So, “Go dig up your time capsule and the blueprints for your rocket,” and despite all the troubles of the world…have fun. After all, “you can’t take back what you have done / so keep you heart young.”

100

A song from Carlile’s perspective, on whether or not she will be remembered on her hundredth birthday. It’s a song of longing for that perfect mate.

A Promise to Keep

This piece opens with soft, warm acoustic guitar and comfortable Saturday morning feelings. Similar to a near lullaby at times, beautiful piano and deep cello strings add wonderful effects.

I’ll Still Be There

This is more of a ‘70s classic rocker, full of great guitar solos, deep cello strings, and piano. Carlile stretches her vocals at times and drives hard to the top of the scales.

What Did I Ever Come Here For

Here is another wonderful song of reminiscing about past love and life. The lyrics discuss overcoming the pitfalls of lost love and its investments of time and effort and most importantly emotion.

Heart’s Content

Soft piano opens Heart’s Content,” with Carlile singing, “maybe you thought I hung the moon / Maybe we thought we were Johnny and June”. It’s another of those fun reminiscent stories of past successes with love’s warmth and comfort. The moral is “love will find a way.”

Rise Again

A great mix of mandolin and guitar flavor “Rise Again” during its opening. Carlile’s voice is electric as you can hear her inspiration shine through on this track. One of the best tracks on the album, some great U2 - like guitar solos help lift this towards that position.

In the Morrow

This is full of soft and wonderful banjo, bouncing along with guitar, mandolin and soft drums. It features powerful, spiritual lyrics that lift comfort and temper despair. “Don’t we always find a way to carry on?”

Just Kids

The closer opens with powerful keys and surrounding tones full of the inspiration of a soft morning sunrise. This has Carlile’s best dreamy vocals, as if she is in the midst of a dream of childhood as she sings. The piano is epic. “All in a moment, all in a sound,” yeah…like that.

 
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