Brandi Carlile: The Story
Brandi Carlile photo from Newport Folk Festival 2008 by Laura Fedele
Album ReCue, a part of FUV's new EQFM initiative, takes an on-air and online look back at influential releases by women over the last six decades that altered our perspective not only of the artist, but her invaluable impact on music history. Listen above to an "Album ReCue" discussion about Brandi Carlile's The Story with midday host Alisa Ali and FUV's program director Rita Houston.
Brandi Carlile, the FUV Essentials firebrand with a big voice and even bigger heart, has put out six beautiful albums with her partners in music, Phil and Tim Hanseroth. By the Way, I Forgive You, released in 2018, may have garnered the most awards, but it's her "breakthrough" effort, The Story, that really displays the artist and person she would become.
It's a full listen, a stack of well-crafted songs Carlile and the Hanseroths had been collecting for years; her self-titled debut was actually more of a collection of "b-sides" they put out before recording The Story (Vice magazine, 2018). It was 2007 when the trio went into the studio with T Bone Burnett for 11 days, once they were finally convinced that he wouldn't over-produce them, ready to do it for real.
In Rita Houston's interview with them at the time, Carlile said the album tells the story of their lives, that the songs "feel like chapters," and that the sequence "is in step with what we've been through for the better part of a decade."
There's sorrow and regret through the growing pains of "Turpentine," while "Late Morning Lullaby" and "Shadow on the Wall" inhabit the doubt and uncertainty that's part of any twentysomething's life. But the title track is the shot across the bow that fully announced Carlile's arrival and intentions. In the studio they grabbed ahold of this song that Phil had written years before. They'd lately been burning up the roads, playing nonstop, and their live shows were getting known for the intense, dynamic lovefests they were becoming. Recording "The Story" brought it all together: the lyrics she adopted as her own, the full-blown emotional presence in the moment, Brandi's voice cracking as she reached to own the room, the stages, and the crowds.
The Story has been her best-selling album: the breakthrough that went gold. Ten years after its release—with Carlile already in the position of full-blown hero to many—she took the album in a new direction. Inspired by a cover of "Hiding My Heart" that Adele tucked onto the end of 21, she pulled together Cover Stories, a benefit album with 14 artists performing the 14 songs, to benefit War Child UK. Former US President Barack Obama wrote the foreword. The project solidified her place in an artistic community that's become so intertwined you can't separate the influencers from the influenced: Dolly Parton, the Indigo Girls, Kris Kristofferson, Jim James, Margo Price.
Carlile has kept moving forward and bringing the rest of the world with her, as with her groundbreaking work with The Highwomen, her band with Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris. Formed to take on the too-male bastion of country radio, they stated their position clearly from the beginning, as in the lyrics for “Redesigning Women” — "Some of us are saints and some of us are surgeons / Made in God’s image, just a better version."
Revisit Brandi Carlile's 2007 Cutting Room FUV Live performance on Marquee Noon, this Friday, June 5, at 12pm ET, talking about The Story, also on demand at any time.
WFUV's EQFM: Brandi Carlile's The Story