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When singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile was 12, she heard Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection for the first time. John and writing partner Bernie Taupin’s 1971 concept album about America’s wild, wild West made a huge impact on the Seattle resident. “It’s written by two guys who grew up and lived in England,” she says. “The songs are so story-oriented. Anyone can relate to them. The reason I write is because of that album.”

On her second album, The Story, the 25-year-old Carlile taps into her joy, heartbreak, and rage. And they’re all powered by her massive voice -- which simultaneously conveys country ache and folksy joy -- while cello, piano, and plenty of electric guitar swells around it. “These stories have so much relevance to me,” she says. “The album really couldn’t be called anything else. Even if the song ‘The Story’ wasn’t on the record, it still would be called The Story.” Recorded live, for the most part, in 11 days by producer T Bone Burnett in a Vancouver studio last year, The Story doesn’t so much pick up where Carlile’s self-titled 2005 debut left off as it sends the singer in a more defined direction. The first album gathered songs that were part of Carlile’s live shows for years. It was put together when she got time and cash to finish it. Even though many of The Story’s songs were also performed onstage before Carlile recorded them, the album is a comprehensive work made by an artist who has something specific to say. “Everything traumatic and dramatic that’s happened to me in the past 10 years is the story of this record,” she says. The delicate drifts and ethereal turns of Carlile’s work contain loads of emotional pull. No surprise that she’s such a fave among those in charge of securing songs for Very Special TV moments. Grey’s Anatomy alone featured three Brandi Carlile cuts during pivotal scenes. “People sometimes need visual aid to understand music,” says Carlile. “As an artist, I love this. I know that somebody’s listening to the lyrics and dissecting them. That’s more than most people will do when they listen to your record. All of my songs are open to interpretation anyway. I want people to apply it to their own experiences.”
Tue., May 8, 9 p.m.

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