Brandi Carlile has got a new album, Bear Creek, coming out June 5 and to celebrate, she’s put together a cool little EP called Live at Bear Creek for her fans. The EP features alternate takes on three of the new tracks off of her forthcoming album and with Brandi’s powerfully fantastic vocals front and center, this one isn’t to be missed. Live at Bear Creek kicks things off with the bouncy “Hard Way Home,” a country folk singalong that has Brandi sounding like she’s singing through a smile and her long-time collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth sound as amazing as usual on background vocals. The EP closes with the quiet, finger-picked “A Promise To Keep,” showcasing all three voices seamlessly intertwining on the chorus with a gorgeous cello accompaniment to make things sound even more smooth and angelic. As always, in the spirit of full disclosure, this track does have some spicy language on it, so just letting you know.
For my two cents, the show-stopper on Live at Bear Creek is “That Wasn’t Me,” a piano-led, heart-on-sleeve introspection that asks some tough questions and delivers a stirring resolution. The track is powerful in its simplicity and the Hanseroth twins offer some unbelievably tender, gospel-flavored background vocals as Brandi’s voice hits every emotional tone your heart wants her to. In songwriting, when someone tries their hand at the tricky “lyric switch around on the final chorus” technique, it can usually come off as forced or contrived. As you’ll find out on “That Wasn’t Me,” it absolutely works this time. The personal narrative is built up perfectly and the change from “whatever you see, that wasn’t me” to “whenever that’s what you see, that will be me” hits like a stone fist in a velvet glove. Live at Bear Creek is worth the download for this track alone, but feel free to put your feet up by the fire and stay for the other two as well.