It isn’t often that the first time you hear a gripping new song is when it is performed live — and when the first notes are so arresting that you become completely entranced, only to discover that the concept, lyrics, melody, and overall execution are outrageously good, as well.
I has such an experience this past Saturday night at Red Rocks as I took in my second (maybe) annual Brandi Carlile concert, which featured a talent Carlile has helped bring forward, singer-songwriter Brandy Clark.
Clark wrote the song, and her new self-titled album is a stunner from beginning to end. Produced by Carlile, it is a strong and lovely collection, and features today’s song — the one that captured my attention with descending piano notes ringing through the stone ampitheater of Bb-A-F-D (repeated 3x) to Bb-A-F-Eb, over a lovely bed of companion chords. The shift from the D to the Eb in the pattern is a perfect off-note to signal insecurity.
Born in a logging town of 900 in Washington state, Clark took up music early and became a well-established songwriter on Nashville’s Music Row. Her songs have been recorded by Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, the Band Perry, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Billy Currington, Darius Rucker, and Kacey Musgraves. She has also released an EP and a couple of albums over the years, and received numerous awards and consistent acclaim.
This song personifies insecurity as an unwanted and cruel companion. The descending piano section that opened the song in concert starts at around 30 seconds in this video (and I have no idea what off-stage antics were causing some preliminary giggles). It’s fun watching them dialing it in after the minor disruption.
For me, those ringing notes took over the night, and then Clark and Carlile captivated the crowd.