It's almost impossible to believe that Brandi Carlile has just scratched the surface of her 30s. Her musical roots are deep.
Of course, there are plenty of 30-something musicians out there, many of whom share the alt-country format with Carlile. What sets her apart, though, is her spiritual passion for the music. You can tell that from the way she nurtures songs, crafting them until they present just the tone and message she wants to convey.
"I am just about playing and writing the songs, no matter what the genre," said Carlile in talking about her just-released album "Bear Creek," which has songs that defy classification. "With writing, I don't ever sit down with the intent, but when I write on my own I tend to become fixated on the lyrics."
Take "That Wasn't Me," from "Bear Creek." It all started when Carlile was headed out the door and casually hit an E chord on her piano. She mulled the unusual-for-her sound and soon found herself writing the song in her head as she drove. Soon after, she found herself back at the piano, crafting the song and the others that would make it onto "Bear Creek."
|When: 7 p.m. Thursday|
|Where: Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, Filene Center, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna|
|Info: $40 in-house, $30 lawn; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org|
"It really wasn't part of a strategic plan," she said of the blues-soul-toned song that many critics liken to ones by Adele. "It just developed as part of a whole 'divide and conquer' theme that just came together really quite easily. And [the harmonies of twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth, who have long worked with Carlile] add an amazing dimension. ... Songs are never a solitary pursuit."
Carlile's major star status -- she has collaborated with everyone from Elton John to Tori Amos and had T Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin produce her last two albums -- gave her plenty of options when she decided to record this album. But rather than enlist a household-name producer and guests, she worked with her touring band and co-producer Trina Shoemaker at Bear Creek Studio, in Seattle, not far from where she lives.
The process, she said, gave her a welcome return to the roots of her music.
" 'That Wasn't Me' is lyrically very important to me. It's one of the most important songs I ever wrote because it's about addiction and forgiveness, but you can't really tell the perspective [when listening to it]," she said.