Bear Creek, the fourth studio album from Brandi Carlile, marks somewhat of a turning point for the 30 year-old singer/songwriter. She’s moved away from working with established producers in the studio. Grammy Award-winning T-Bone Burnett produced her 2007 album The Story, and music icon Rick Rubin produced 2009’s Give Up the Ghost.
On this outing, which was named after the studio in rural Washington where it was recorded, Carlile worked with engineer and producer Trina Shoemaker. The result is her most varied collection of songs to date with nods to other great female singers. Raise Hell echoes Joan Osborne, Rise Again sounds like an early Maria McKee track and Save Part of Yourself could easily feature on a Bonnie Raitt album.
Lyrically, she covers a wide terrain with songs about childhood, religion, addiction and heartache. While these aren’t new to her in terms of subject matter, Carlile has a newfound confidence and ease in the studio. This must have at least been partly inspired by her years of constant touring, where she’s picked up legions of fans on the road with the Indigo Girls, Dave Matthews, The Avett Brothers and many others.
Carlile has also had some success recently offering her songs to other singers. Miranda Lambert covered her country-tinged Same Old You just last year, and it was one of the highlights on her latest album. On Bear Creek’s first single, That Wasn’t Me, Carlile enlisted Kris Kristofferson to play an ex-con musician in the solemn and touching music video. You can click below to watch it. She’ll also be touring throughout the year.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNmo8I4dEQE]