Posts Tagged ‘Low Country Sound/Elektra Records’

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Forgiveness can feel like a foreign concept within this year’s endless unspoolings of shock, rage and cynicism. And yet, there was Brandi Carlile — the era’s most powerful purveyor of that much-abused gift to hungry audiences, the rock anthem ,making a whole album about what it means to practice it. By The Way, I Forgive You begins with a gentle ballad grounded in Carlile’s close harmonies with her main collaborators, Tim and Phil Hanseroth; it contains the album’s title phrase. It’s a story of rejection (for Carlile, by a minister who refused to baptize her when she came out as a teen) with the moral that moving on only works when you declare the weight of the damage done. The album ends with a Joni Mitchell-inspired piano ballad about a near-disastrous fight Carlile had with her wife, the song itself the peace offering Carlile offers, in the lyrics: “Girl, you can slam the door behind you, it ain’t ever gonna close.” Between these bookmarks Carlile shares stories of the wrongs people do each other and what it really takes to enact forgiveness: resilience and recognition of wrongdoing, tempered by the determination to live fully, even with the wounds.

Carlile’s huge, warm voice, with its vibrato ending each phrase as if turning into a memory, works perfectly within the album’s grand, expressive settings, untethered to genre, massive but intimate. Whether sharing the story of “Sugartooth,” an addict and the people who love him even as he slips out of their safe hold, or assuring the bullied children of “The Joke” that they will walk in the sunlight of their own truth soon, or realizing that her father’s advice to bear no malice doesn’t contradict her mother’s about knowing when to fight, Carlile rises to meet its imperatives. Each song asks how she, how any of us, can face the ugliness life creates and still hold out a hand — toward the dark, so that it might possibly transform; toward those we love and those we fear, so that, as one prayer of forgiveness once said, we all may be delivered.

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