- March 17, 2020
- Kelly McCartney
- Album Reviews
by Kelly McCartney (@kellymccartneyx), for Folk Alley
The artist's way is hardly ever a straight line or a single path. It often strolls to and fro, around and about, here and there. Sometimes the tangents are dead ends; sometimes they are new beginnings. But pretty much always, they are worthwhile wanderings and wonderings because the muse must be honored, no matter where she leads.
Singer/songwriter Brandy Clark knows that very well, having taken the world by storm with her pretty well perfect debut album, 2013's 12 Stories. She wowed the critics, toured the world, and played the Grammys. Not too shabby a showing, at all, for a hit songwriter-turned-independent artist. For her 2016 follow-up, Big Day in a Small Town, she went big, with a major label and a hot-shot producer. While that album's songs felt, at their hearts, like Clark, the sheen and shine of the overall record was a bit too polished for the Americana fans who'd fallen so hard for 12 Stories.
With Your Life Is a Record, Clark returns to her natural habitat, letting classic production, real-life lyrics, and soulful melodies carry the load, the combination of which works beautifully for her voice and her compositions. Interestingly, while it's Jay Joyce who is back in the producer's seat, thanks to the soaring strings, punchy horns, and Randy Newman cameo, the work feels rather like a record Mitchell Froom would make, if he were to make a country record.
The other mightily notable difference to be found on Your Life is that Clark has finally fastened her gaze upon her own life, at least to a certain extent. Where, on albums past, she told the tales of misanthropes and meanderers, here, she processes the loss of a love of her own... sprinkled in with a few more misanthropes and meanderers, of course.
Highlights of the set include the wistful pace-setter that is “I'll Be the Sad Song,” the soul-tinged slow burn of “Love Is a Fire,” the plinky, stringy sashay of “Who You Thought I Was,” and the radio-ready confessional that is “Apologies.” At the very least — and it's so much more — Your Life Is a Record is a testament that Brandy Clark and her muse know how to turn simple, but clever ideas into some dadgum great songs.