After years of hard work building up her reputation as one of the best songwriters in Nashville, Brandy Clark has since built that reputation into one of the best singer/songwriter artists in Nashville. On this self-titled record, her fourth album, Brandy chose to work with Grammy-winning artist/writer/producer Brandi Carlile to create a record that demands repeated listens.
“Ain’t Enough Rocks,” which features Derek Trucks on guitar, is an opening salvo that says a lot about Brandy Clark as both a writer and an artist. There’s a dark undercurrent to a lot of her music but the bad people get what they deserve in her songs. “She Smoked In The House” is a loving tribute to the woman who informed Brandy’s music tastes and is the best kind of nostalgia, including a brilliant Dobro guitar solo.
“Come Back To Me” feels like a 90s country love fest, with brilliant harmonies and lyrics about loving someone enough to let them go, even if you don’t want to. Written with longtime collaborators Shane McAnally and Trevor Rosen (of Old Dominion), the song is everything you could want in a country song. The rockin’ “Northwest” also features some 90s country vibes as Brandy sings of the region of the country she was raised and still loves (for the record, Carlile is from Washington state as well).
“Buried” (which Brandy wrote with Jessie Jo Dillon) finds the narrator singing a tender heartbreaking song about how that true love will stay with one forever, even if the relationship doesn’t last as long. The title doesn’t come until the end of the song but it rings true and recalls the kind of soft moments found on Trisha Yearwood records, where powerful vocalists sing softly and tenderly because that’s what the song demands. “Tell Her You Don’t Love Her” features Lucious on harmony vocals as Brandy pleads with her dream partner to finally come to her, even if that partner will never actually do that. It’s achingly honest.
Honesty, as those two songs suggest, has always been at the heart of Brandy Clark’s songwriting and working with Brandi Carlile has only given her music an even more sophisticated feel, blending Clark’s mainstream country bonafides with Carlisle’s alt rock/alt country style to bring us a great partnership (and it shows up in song on the brilliantly “Dear Insecurity” where they harmonize and duet on). The production on the entirety of Brandy Clark doesn’t come off as mainstream country but since the mainstream isn’t really playing her music anyway, that’s fine.
Brandy Cark is one of the best artists in all of country music. She’s at the top of her game here and her partnership with Brandi Carlile on her self-titled album was inspired and here’s hoping they continue working together in the future. Do not miss this record.