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The multi-octave vocalist uses her range to achieve an emotional effect, kinda like her fellow Seattle rocker Kurt Cobain, on songs like “Turpentine,” using those raw nerve endings to express the pain of a ruptured relationship.
CARLILE TELLS HER STORY IN BREAKOUT L.A. SHOW
This Captivating Young Writer/Artist From the Pacific Northwest Is Way-Ready for Her Close-up
Funny thing is, you’d think Brandi Carlile was just another of those Pacific Northwest folkies, a singer/songwriter in the sweet-voiced Michele Branch vein, or maybe even a roots Americana performer like Lucinda Williams, judging from the fact T Bone Burnett produced her new album, The Story. But you’d be wrong.

Instead, the multi-octave vocalist uses her range to achieve an emotional effect, kinda like her fellow Seattle rocker, the late Kurt Cobain, on songs like “Turpentine,” using those raw nerve endings (“These days we go to waste like wine/That’s turned to turpentine”) to express the pain of a ruptured relationship.

Backed by a crack four-piece band that includes twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth on guitars and bass, Carlile keeps her emotions very much in control (“I’m not that kind of girl,” she admonishes the crowd after they cheer her revelation she’s not wearing anything under her suit jacket), but finally lets loose with a spirited version of The Beatles’ “I've Just Seen a Face,” as part of a medley including “Closer,” from her self-titled debut.

A ballsy cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” (“I killed a man in Reno/Just to watch him die”) gets the crowd pumped for a tender version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” by way of Jeff Buckley, in which she calls up James Taylor back-up vocalist, Arnold McCuller, who brings the house down with a searing, sweet-tempered gospel duet.

The audience is rapturous throughout, and Carlile seems genuinely moved by the love. She sings the title track of the new album— “So many stories of where I’ve been/And how I got to where I am/But these stories don’t mean anything/When you’ve got no one to tell them to”—and from the sound of her fans’ adulation, that's not going to be a problem any time soon.

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