Thankfully it takes more than a global pandemic to halt the creativity of the majority of country artists, and that has definitely been the case for Nashville based Brandy Clark. Fans disappointed by the cancellation of her tour dates to support the March release of her critically acclaimed new album “Your Life Is A Record” (Warner Records) were recently treated to two brand new singles released ten days apart. Both see Brandy collaborating with fellow Washington State native Brandi Carlile who provides some fabulous backing vocals and also produces the tracks, her abilities in that respect of course having earned her a Grammy earlier this year for her work on Tanya Tucker’s latest release “While I’m Livin'”. Although the pair had to connect remotely due to current restrictions, it’s a working partnership (cleverly being referred to as “BC Squared”) many have been crying out for, the two having shared the same billing on several occasions and having expressed a mutual admiration for one another’s musical output many a time. And while the two songs are sonically different, their underlying, thought provoking message is similar and particularly important in these divisive times…..we are all more alike that it often appears.
“Same Devil” sees Brandy co-writing with rising star Hailey Whitters (the two wrote together for Hailey’s wonderful recent album “The Dream”) and established Nashville writer Maria Cannon-Goodman, the three coming up with a very poignant and well observed song, its beautiful yet simple production perfectly focusing the listener’s ear on the lyrics. Beginning with the simplest of acoustic guitar backing , this brooding, bluesy song has Brandy narrating the opening verse as she observes what is unfolding before her eyes…..yes, it’s almost like a documentary as she describes a drug transaction taking place between a prostitute and her dealer, while the girl’s concerned mother is just a few streets away anxiously “waiting on a call she hopes she never gets”. The song gradually builds sonically, including the addition of some haunting backing vocals from Brandi, as Brandy’s varied social and political commentary continues. But while people are quick to judge others, we must bear in mind the skeletons in our own closets which manifest themselves in different ways……look at yourself before condemning what you see. As she puts it so well herself when talking about the song, “we all have different paths, different problems, different addictions, different beliefs that all take us to the exact same place”. Yes, as the tag line says, “Different demons, same devil”.
“Like Mine”, as mentioned earlier, is also about what actually unites people who on the face of it may seem very different, but unlike its much darker predecessor this song is more optimistic and uplifting in every respect. A co-write with Jessie Jo Dillon, Luke Dick and Laura Veltz, it was inspired by Brandy telling her great friend Jessie Jo about being at a birthday party with her nephew who was explaining to her about the disabilities of one of his fellow classmates who was also there. She seized the opportunity to point out to him that they actually had a lot in common including having a heart that could so easily get broken, telling him he needed to take extra care to make sure she was looked after in that respect. Although the song took a slightly different path, you can see how it stemmed from that conversation, and I particularly love how it is written as if being addressed to one specific person while at the same time being more universally applicable. There’s a lot of soul searching going on throughout too. Brandy admitting mistakes, asking for forgiveness and wanting to move on with greater understanding and compassion…..the world definitely needs more of that. The vocals and instrumentation both build explosively as the song progresses and pack a real punch, Brandy really lets rip so very impressively and without any inhibition with Brandi once more adding some fabulous backing. There’s a strong beat that kicks in too, reminiscent of the all-important heart beat that unites us all as we are reminded in the chorus……..”You’ve got a heart like mine, and it’s shaped like mine, it’s hard like mine so it breaks like mine” ….. a throwback of course to what gave rise to
Judging by what BC Squared has already given us with these two stunningly beautiful and very timely releases, let’s hope that it’s a collaboration that will continue….would an album be too much to ask for?
Stream/Download the new songs here
Brandy’s latest album “Your Life Is A Record” is available here https://brandyclark.lnk.to/YourLifeIsARecord
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