Concert review: Singer Brandi Carlile reveals new dimensions
Singer Brandi Carlile revealed new dimensions at Benaroya Hall with Seattle Symphony Nov. 29.
Special to The Seattle Times
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Hear Brandi Carlile: www.brandicarlile.com.
Concert Review |
"I know about 75 percent of the people in here," joked Brandi Carlile to a capacity crowd in Benaroya Hall Saturday night.
A native of Ravensdale, Wash. — on the southeast edge of King County — the rising singer-songwriter had no trouble facing an exuberant, even adoring, Seattle audience.
But 27-year-old Carlile didn't rest on hometown goodwill. If anything, the evening was a calculated risk, in which a gifted but evolving artist plied her music in broad and revealing circumstances, backed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
The result was a huge success for Carlile and a privilege for those in attendance.
Critics have long made a point of comparing Carlile — who can sound like bluegrass, folk or anthemic rock from song to song — to countless other performers. But the bottom line is that she has a tantalizingly singular, yet still developing, pop sensibility that transcends her influences.
At Benaroya, glimpses of an emerging mastery and fusion of genres were thrillingly obvious. As good as Carlile's recorded work is to date — including her most recent, well-received studio album, "The Story" — she already sounds well beyond it.
The show's short, first half focused on familiar acoustic numbers that underscored the bittersweet shadings and fixed honesty in Carlile's voice.
"Throw It All Away" accentuated the casual discipline of Carlile and her band — Tim Hanseroth on guitar, Phil Hanseroth on bass, Josh Neumann on cello — as they teased out the song's beautiful chord progression, see-saw melody and echoes of vintage folk-pop.
The second half added a fine drummer, Daxx Nielsen, and the Seattle Symphony conducted by Sean O'Loughlin. The orchestra joined Carlile on seven tunes, including "Follow," which proved to be pure pop heaven with its gorgeous, Beatle-esque hooks and majestic arrangement.
Not every tune required the orchestra: Carlile's group brought compressed power and emotional richness to "Wasted" and the towering "The Story."
Two new songs suggested intriguing things to come: "Oh, Dear," with its layered harmonies deeply reminiscent of dreamy "girl group" hits of the early 1960s, and "Pride and Joy," which ends with the kind of epic coda that once graced concept albums. Carlile's Benaroya stand represented nothing less than the further flowering of a significant artist.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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