Review : Brandi Carlile - Give Up The Ghost
AllmusicThe sticker affixed to the initial pressings of Brandi Carlile's eponymous 2005 major-label debut trumpet that the singer/songwriter is an "artist to watch" by Rolling Stone, Interview, and Paste. Those accolades, combined with cover artwork that captures her at her cutest — as if she were a cousin of Rachael Leigh Cook — might make some listeners suspicious of Carlile, since the cumulative effect makes her seem like a pretty, prepackaged creation. One listen to her absolutely terrific debut immediately dispels these notions. From the moment "Follow" seeps out of the speakers, it's clear that Carlile isn't a prefabricated pop star. For starters, she's a powerful, captivating vocalist, clearly influenced by Jeff Buckley, but lacking the mannered theatrical histrionics that could occasionally creep into his work. She's quieter and intimate, slowly pulling listeners into her tales of love and loss. While her words and topics may not be bracing, her music is: it's rich, warm, and seductive, familiar in its form and sound, yet sounding fresh, even original, particularly in how her folky singer/songwriter foundation blends with her art-pop inclinations. Her music ebbs and flows with long, languid melodies, strummed acoustic guitars, and her surging vocals, creating an album that's ideal for introspective, late-night listening. Carlile is supported by guitarist Tim Hanseroth and his bassist twin brother Phil (they're billed as "The Twins" in the production credits for the album), and they're not mere support, they're collaborators, co-writing several songs (Tim writes "What Can I Say" on his own), and giving the album the graceful, liquid musicality that makes it such a rewarding, addictive listen. The best thing about Brandi Carlile is that it not only doesn't sound like a debut, it sounds like a record that exists out of time and place — which means it's not only a superb debut, it's a hell of a record by any measure....full text
PastemagazineBrandi Carlile is a woman out of time. She’s no revivalist—four years into her recording career, her albums owe as much to early Radiohead as they do Johnny Cash. But she seems like an artist who, at any point in the past 50 years, could’ve come busting out of Ravensdale, Wash., to bowl the world over like she did in 2005 with her self-titled debut.
The album was a fresh 10-song collection of rootsy, straightforward acoustic rock, shot through with wide-eyed, weary wonder. Bit with that voice—warm and bell-clear, skipping up and down her register like smooth, flat stones tossed across a still lake—she would’ve been right at home on the Opry stage, crooning tortured ballads alongside Patsy and Loretta, or maybe harmonizing with Gram Parsons in some alternate Emmylou-less universe. But by some stroke of fate, she landed in these times instead....full text
PopmattersBrandi Carlile’s third full-length album, Give Up the Ghost, opens with a single strum and then the cuffed chugging of her acoustic guitar as the 28-year-old Seattle native starts singing in her warm alto. The song, “Looking Out”, builds to a soaring pre-chorus that shows off Carlile’s remarkable power and range. The band comes crashing in—including writing and touring partners, and twin brothers, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, on guitar and bass, respectively, who are joined in the studio by Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls on harmony vocals—and the song reaches impressive heights. The acoustic guitar is up front here, as it is throughout the album, but this is a rock song with walloping drums and Carlile’s strident singing, continuing the sort of passionate hard folk with which Carlile won fans over on the title cut to 2007’s The Story.
That record, her sophomore release on Columbia, was produced by T-Bone Burnett, and true to his signature style, The Story was mostly a toned-down affair, full of Burnett’s elegant but somber touch and quiet contemplative songs. Give Up the Ghost is a bigger album—not exactly heavy by modern rock standards, but certainly a more expansive sonic template, with harder singing and playing than its predecessor. I’m not sure there’s anything here as passionate as “The Story” or as lovely as “Turpentine” or as authentically country as “Josephine”, but Give Up the Ghost sounds terrific, nonetheless, and contains moments of sharp, joyous songwriting....full text
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