Chatting It Up with Brandi Carlile

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Chatting It Up with Brandi Carlile

Recently, I was given a second go at Brandi Carlile... Wait. Let me rephrase that. I was offered a second opportunity to interview her regarding her latest album, Bear Creek. The first go-around was a short piece for NoiseTrade back in early June. It was a rushed set of questions culled before ever hearing the record. Now that I've not only heard the record, but also read more interviews with Brandi than I care to admit, I decided to take a different tack with my Velvetpark course. 

In a nutshell, the album is a pretty great encapsulation of Carlile and company's artistry. But to get the full effect of what she is capable of, you really have to see her live. Luckily, she's currently on the road with her Bear Creek Summer Revue Tour. (Note to die-hards: Allison Miller isn't on this tour, though she did play on the album.)

Let's talk about the difference between being a great artist, or a great singer, and being a full-fledged entertainer. For instance, our mutual friend Katie Herzig is a fantastic artist — and a very entertaining one — and Patty Griffin is both a great artist and a great singer, but neither are entertainers in the same way that you, Lyle Lovett, and k.d. lang are. What made you go for the gold there? Do you find it to be a dying art form? I mean, I can't really think of any other artists working the classy, old-school tip.

I have such reverence for the Grant Ole Opry scene — nudie suits, one-liners, and country charm — and also the rock and roll crooners in jump suits like Elvis Presley. My teenage years were full of rock and roll flamboyance, and my love for Elton John and Freddie Mercury are noteworthy examples of this. Performing is as much, if not more, a part of my artistic expression as my lyrics.

To do it like that, you have to sort of set yourself aside and really step up as a performer, right? To be able to sell songs that you didn't write, to be able to woo everyone in the crowd — male, female, gay, straight...

I’ve heard it said by great interpreters of other peoples' songs that the key to being in the truth is really