Brandi Carlile's ‘The Firewatcher's Daughter’ Deserves The Misguided Spotlight
Wielding an emotion-fuelled tear jerker of a sound and a fresh, twelve track chronicle of melancholic infatuation, noticeable changes due to ageing and knowing where you call home. The exceptionally uncommon Seattleite known as Brandi Carlile releases her fifth album entitled ‘The Firewatcher’s daughter’.
Still receiving recognition from her 2012 release ‘Bear Creek’, the successful collaboration of Mrs Carlile and ‘The Twins’ (Tim and Phil Hanseroth) seems to unlock an unlimited pool of potential for the three artists and the three years taken to finish this album seem to have paid out.
The opening song ‘Wherever is your heart’, describes the touching reflection that you and only you decide exactly where you would metaphorically call your heart in the sense that the concept that our ‘home’ is a huge part of our lives, that that secluded section of the world that gives you peace, is a large security to you and shelters you from danger like no other place does.
Ending on a high note, ‘The Eye’ smoothly moves its way on to centre stage, a strikingly beautiful 3-part harmony based on the personification of a typical Americana motif which not only encapsulates a sweetly lyrical narrative, but also establishes itself as one of the strongest tracks on the album. Moving on to ‘The things I regret’, a steady drum beat and emphasised guitar strum of indie folk and baroque pop kicks in, changing the rhythm and speed of the album. Through Brandi’s passionate emphasis on every syllable and the reliable rhythm of her two accomplices, the words of the title are quickly transformed into physical form.
A progressively growing, southern-rock note enters her repertoire to which Brandi adapts to instantaneously, bringing out this hellfire from the back of her throat to garnish all over the fourth track, ‘Mainstream Kid’. From a grinding, high-flung rock style to a slow, reminiscently sweet track musing over her past regrets (to which hold no earthly tether over her anymore).
‘Wilder (We’re Chained)’, shows how the future may mean growing older and having the dreaded metaphorical chain wrapped around your leg, but the message is not to avoid such a figure of speech, but to encourage the concept with someone you truly care for. A line to sum up this track would have to be, ‘Life has a fuse and it burns with a quickness, but death ain’t the long twisted branch of sickness’.
Building up into an uplifting, mainstream-esque lick, ‘Blood Muscle Skin & Bone’ stresses to the masses yet again how life is periodically short and that the times when you feel overwhelmed can easily be rectified with the company of a loving partner or a loyal friend. With a tempo that constantly changes throughout the album, the eighth track ‘I belong to you’ comes under evaluation as its acoustic, finger plucked cadence echoes gently over the soft melody of Brandi’s poetic serenade, an innocent tale of ironically unsung love. The word ‘belong’ can be quite offensive when declared, but when given as a gesture of faithfulness, it can be a sweet declaration to another.
‘Alibi’ is the sore thumb sticking out from the rest of her work’s selection, but is still a successful adaptation of some classic 1980’s blues/pub rock hysteria based on guilty actions shared between one another in a relationship. The tone changes immediately as the tenth track wraps a neat Nancy Sinatra style over the country pop/rock package. ‘The stranger at my door’ gives voice to the axiom, that ‘there ain’t no hell for a firewatcher’s daughter’ which speaks of an individual who knows no guilt or shame in their actions, that the character simply wants to watch the world burn to indulge their addictive personal pleasure.
Leading off on an unusual outro of their own instrumental adaptation to ‘The ants go marching’ theme, the next song ‘Heroes and songs’ comes flooding in with the traditional coined Brandi Carlile sound filtering back, with an account of the hardship of loss and ending the grieving process. The guitars rings throughout as the last track wistfully flows from the album which ends on a downhearted tune reminding the public to ‘always remember that there is nothing worth sharing like the love that lets us share our name’.
The repetitive theme running between particular songs as the album pushes on, works very well as it illustrates each page of Brandi Carlile’s life. There are ever-growing hopes for this serious contender that ‘The firewatcher’s daughter’ brings her to the attention of an unaware and deprived music population.
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Words by Nathan Roach