Read Culture

Country Soul: Brandi Carlile


Move over Shelby. Step aside Sheryl. There’s a new roots-rockin’ girl in town. And her name is Brandi Carlile. Sure, she may sound like a porn star at first glance of her name, but give her self-titled debut a whirl and porn is the furthest thing from your mind. With hints of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, this 23-year-old singer-songwriter has the chops, the licks and the downright dirty writing skills to take on the alt-country, heck, the country, world.

Her deep, gutsy voice grabs you from the start. None of this light and lofty nonsense propelled by bubblegum popsters like Britney or Jessica Simpson. This is one 20something that has a drive and determination that will likely provide her with a longstanding career, like some her of musical heroes including Janis, Bruce and even Buckley.

Brandi possesses a particular quality that many young artists today don’t have – and that is solid songwriting. She’s a storyteller with a twang in her gruff, soulful voice that can also hit a high falsetto at the crack of a whip, much in the way Roy Orbison did. Brandi’s had music in her life since childhood when she performed Rosanne Cash’s “Tennesse Flat-Top Box” on stage at age 8 and when she dreamed of being Elton John while playing in the woods of her remote Washington State home. Today, Carlile holds on to her roots while living in a vast log cabin, in which she recorded many of the songs on her debut.

I haven’t had the chance to see Brandi live, but you can bet I’ll be at her next show that comes through Chicago. Her album drops July 12 but she has an EP, including a song from the soundtrack to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, on iTunes you can check out.


More stories like this one.