Brandi Carlile was born in Ravensdale, a former coal mining town in South King County. Brandy Clark was born in Morton, a former logging town at the edge of the Cascades in Lewis County. Both played in the woods as kids. Both write, sing and play their own music. Brandi lives in Maple Valley. Brandy lives in Nashville.
Their music, tugging at opposite ends of the Americana spectrum, goes down like sweet bourbon.
In two videos from Brandi Carlile’s just released album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, she performs with her longtime mates Tim and Phil Hanseroth, twin brothers who, while flanking Brandi in the video for “The Eye,” make for a pair of comfortable, handsome bookends. The video is a single take head-and-shoulders shot of the three of them on a stripped-down studio set, lit by soft leathery light, their haunting harmonies reflecting a lived-in confidence the three have shared for more than a decade. An acoustic guitar is the only music. Pure and lovely folk.
The second video, “Wherever Is Your Heart,” is also spare and simple; another single take of Brandi walking into a tunnel from a sunlit forest glade, joined inside by the Hanseroths for a joyous and lively sing-along, their movements becoming mere shadows and outlines in the dark.
There’s darkness in these two Brandy Clark videos as well, but it’s in service of the songs’ cheeky film noir touches. “Get High,” about a bored housewife “rolling herself a fat one”, is my favorite from Clark’s debut album, 12 Stories (nominated for a recent Grammy). It’s a song Loretta Lynn might have recorded, except she would have replaced the ganga with gin.
The next video, “Stripes,” has received over a million views, and you can see why. It’s June Carter meets Orange Is The New Black. A woman catches her husband in bed with another woman and pulls out her revolver. But before shooting the two lovers she imagines her life as a fashion-challenged convict, forced to wear an orange jumpsuit or striped pajamas. It’s enough to make a girl think twice, put down the gun, and call 911 instead.
Both videos are made on the cheap, but they showcase Clark’s Music Row songwriting chops and her classic twang-soaked country and western voice.
Brandi and Brandy. Born in the shadows of coal mines and tall trees, right here in Washington.