Album Review: Brandi Carlile, 'The Firewatcher's Daughter'


Brandi Carlile, 'The Firewatcher's Daughter'
Brandi Carlile, 'The Firewatcher's Daughter' (© 2015 ATO Records.)

Brandi Carlile is back with a new album. Earlier in her career, that wouldn't have mattered much to me because I thought she leaned too adult-contemporary for my tastes. Boy, was I wrong! This might be her most rockin' album to date.

I've learned with her last few albums that Brandi is just plain good and keeps getting better. I've also learned how integral twin brothers Tim and Phil Hanseroth are to Brandi's entire process; together, they're like a three-headed monster. The twins wrote or co-wrote a good chunk of the songs on the album, adding their spot-on harmonies, not to mention their contributions on guitar, bass and percussion. This core trio and a few others cut most of the album in one take, with little demo-ing or rehearsal. Maybe it's time they bill themselves as Brandi Carlile and the Twins!

The album starts like a house afire: Carlile totally nails the vocal on the gospel influenced "Wherever is Your Heart," and this one makes you realize just how good she is. When she sings, you're a believer. She'll have you singing along on the infectious "The Thing I Regret" with its chorus "Let them roll over me /let them roll over me."

One of the album's highlights is "The Eye," a song penned by Tim Hanseroth, which is very stripped down and nearly a cappella, featuring little more than acoustic guitar and the lovely harmonies of the trio. You can hear Brandi's country music and Fleetwood Mac influences on this one. Carlile and company performed this one in The Current studio late last year, and Brandi declared, "It's my favorite song on the album, probably my favorite song ever."

"Wilder (We're Chained)" features another gorgeous vocal. She could be singing this on your front porch. You can almost hear Loretta Lynn singing "Wilder than a brush fire burns deep inside the bramble / Baby, I think God made your soul to ramble". It reminded me how Brandi has mentioned, "I've gone through all sorts of vocal phases, from pop to blues to R&B, but no matter what I do, I just can't get the country and western out of my voice."

Maybe the biggest surprise on the album is "Mainstream Kid," which shows some grit! It's as badass as Carlile has ever sounded, and full of big, screaming guitars. That isn't the only rocker. "Alibi" and "The Stranger At My Door" could rock a barroom in anywhere USA.

If you had Brandi Carlile pegged as an adult-contemporary softie, you might try again. Brandi Carlile and the Hanseroth twins show that they aren't afraid to rock out. The Firewatcher's Daughter is a bold and welcome addition to her catalogue.

Audience ratings for this album

The Current's listeners like Brandi Carlile. Ninety-six percent of people who submitted a rating for this album gave it 5 stars out of 5. (51 votes submitted) Poll closed at noon on Friday, March 6.

Related Stories

  • Brandi Carlile performs in The Current studio In town for a couple of shows at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Brandi Carlile and her band stopped in to The Current's studio to play some songs off their forthcoming record, 'The Firewatcher's Daughter.' The session features the live radio premieres of three new songs, including one about which Carlile says, "It's my favorite song on the album, probably my favorite song ever."
  • The Current's Guitar Collection: Brandi Carlile, Collings custom Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile describes her Collings custom guitar, a guitar make she starting playing based on the recommendation of a songwriting legend.

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