Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brandi Carlile: Singing from the Gut

Roger and I recently went to a Brandi Carlile Concert and found out first hand what an incredible performer she is. What makes Brandi so special to me is her ability to sing straight from the gut. She has so much soul and a strong connection to each song that she performs. You feel the molecules change in the air when she starts to sing and you know you are witnessing something special. She loves what she does, she has talent oozing out of her and to top it all off, she is gracious. Many artists say the cliche phrase, "I love my fans", but when Brandi says it you know she means it.

She decided that for our audience that she would just take requests the whole night instead of playing a well thought out set list. It was so fun! After her first couple songs she started calling on people and one of the first requests was her cover of Leonard Cohen's  "Hallelujah". She joked and said, "You are going straight to that one, huh!? Just taking the plunge!" She explained that she is used to singing it towards the end of her set so it should be refreshing to sing it without her voice being so thrashed from screaming for two hours. I have heard many variations of this song, and hers was definitely in my top three of covers. So beautiful. I pretty much cried through the whole thing.

And speaking of her "screaming" for two hours, I did not find that to literally be the case. There are artists who have a raspy tone and that is their voice like Tina Turner or Janis Joplin. With Brandi, she can turn on that rasp when the song needs that color and turn it right off. I was impressed with her vocal versatility and her ability to continue to sing so lovely after using that raspy, belt quality.

Her band that night was just her partners in crime, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, twin brothers who play guitar and bass respectively, and who write songs along with Brandi for each of her albums. Their back up vocals are spot on. And on cello was Josh Neumann who also played the piano at times. Brandi would sometimes just stand and sing at the mic or sit and play the piano while singing. But, my favorite was when she was wailing on the acoustic guitar. If you think "wailing" sounds like a weird verb to go with "acoustic" guitar you have obviously not seen Brandi play. Yeah, she rocks it out!

As you can tell, I really don't have much criticism to give. Her music resonated with me and I was inspired. With my recital coming up, I was excited to get home and dig deeper into my set list. To give each song the connection and interpretation it deserves. At least for my capabilities right now. I want to move people when I perform like she moved me. I want to sing from the gut and not just be a pretty voice, but an artist. Hopefully I am on the road to being the artist I always imagined I could be.