Ranking of Brandi Carlile’s Catalog

4 Jul

I’m about to go to a Brandi concert for my birthday, so I thought I would rank her songs. I used the same judging format that I did for the Indigo Girls and Taylor Swift, so check out those entries for the logistics and math (yes this is a quantitatively judged ranking).  Here is Brandi Carlile’s studio album (not lives or reworked. Yet.) songs from skip to best.  The later in this list, the better the song:

Skip:

82. Keep Your Heart Young-

This one is a skip for several reasons (and none of them are that it’s a bad or un-entertaining song).  It’s wildly loved by the fandom, and they play it at many a concert–so it’s just overheard by me.  More than that, this song in particular signaled a genre change that I didn’t want, as a fan of the original iteration of the band.  It’s good, it’s fine.  But prior to this, Brandi was too cool for school.  She was hipster and edgy and an alternative-something mid-20 (Me.  And Cool.) would really aspire to.  This song was the first homey, country, down-home, ‘mom’ folksy song.  I’m still mad at it.  But I am glad now that Brandi got a Grammy she’s returning more to the 2015-ish sound.  I hope she’ll do more rock in the future.  Or at least sneak it in.

Meh:

81. Heroes and Songs

80. Oh Dear

79. Just Kids-

The best of the meh category. It’s a great album ending, but not as good as a stand alone song.  The ambient noise is really cool.  It’s just too long and slow of a track when not used as a closer.

Neutrals:

78. Beginning to Feel the Years-

Slow. Brighter singing tone and a chorus. It doesn’t sound like Brandi very much.

77. If there was No You

76. Sixty Years On-

Voice cracks in this version. Symphony version is better, but I decided not to do any extra albums this go-around.  I might add them in later because I think I skipped at least 2, and maybe a third.

75. Murder in the City

It’s too much a copycat of a different band. Don’t like the talking through the song style. What a waste of Brandi’s pipes. The backing harmonies and strings sound good though.

74. You and Me on the Rock-

73. I Belong to You

72. Save a Part of Yourself-

Catchiness to the song. claps but harmonies and Italian snippets too.

71. Every Time I Hear that Song

70. By the way I forgive you.

69. Happy

Amber-lee. Writing is good for break-up song.

68. Someday Never Comes

Goods:

67. . Hearts Content

66. Stay Gentle

I like when Brandi is at least a little edgy. This is too sweet and leaves me Wanting another component in the song.

65. Wilder

Maybe it’s the way the band is mic-ed up to catch the harmonies but Brandi sounds echoy in a low quality way. Harmonies are nice, but nobody wants this one slowing down every concert as they are doing.

64. Blood Muscle Skin and Bone-

That first sound is so different and interesting! It doesn’t sound like Brandi singing for a lot of it. The claps and wailing 1950s harmony come off as a little cheesy. I do like the snare fast beat.

63. Fulton County Jane

There just a touch of yodal and it’s excellent.

62. 100

This one has an instrumental bridge with slight tension. At the Gorge, they played this with the tympani and it was the best version of this song!  If that was the album version, it would easily be an awesome.

61. Throwing Good After bad-

😞 Detailed.  Some lyrical complexity but slow and depressing. (Gr)

60. Letter to the Past

Passionate singing. Note. Built to last totally takes me out of the song and into a car commercial. It’s the last impression of the song and always makes me drop the rank a few spots bc it’s so jarring.

59. Gone

Waltz backing. Simple song. Nice bridge with twin harmony.

58. In the Morrow-

Low key. High notes just at end. Some kind of bango/subtle bluegrass really makes this song! There is a rise in the music & singing.

57. Cannonball (G-Gr)

56. The Eye

Too copycat of Fleetwood Mac. It seems like the band was lost during Firewatchers Daughter. They wanted that Grammy and more mainstream success but didn’t know how to go about it. This is one that I dislike it not for the song as much as what it indicated the direction the band was taking. Still, beautiful harmonies.

55. This Time Tomorrow

Nice and prominent harmonies but in a more authentic way to the band. Not as much of a copycat song.

54. Most of All

Talks about her parents. I like the sentiment and the growth. Notes. Harmony. Sentimental without being saccharine.

53. A Promise to Keep

More catchy, stronger writing than blood .. Backing Cello gives lots of resonance.

52. When You’re Wrong

Prelude to in these Silent Days. Haunting.  Tells a full story. Scream-wail is emotive and a good end.

51. Tragedy-

Notes put it over cannonball. (G-Gr)

We’re getting into the top 50 songs in the catalog:

50. Until I Die (G-Gr)

Over tragedy bc the jam and beat is more. Prominent twin harmonies.

49. Turpentine-

Low register. Catchy. This is another one that’s an awesome when done with the symphony. The symphony version is definitely over The Joke, but this one is pretty short.

48. The Joke-

I’m a bit mad at this song too. I see it as pure Grammy pandering. And as you can see, I ranked it at one point, then forgot to put it in the writing somehow-oops. Major infraction is this is the song the led most people to discover the band. I’m in the camp that it’s overrated. It was a moment in time, and Brandi hyped it up big-time. It is a good song with a good meaning and singing moments. I just don’t think it’s even close to the best song (as you can see by the half-number–this might bother me a lot later and I’ll have to re-do the whole damn thing. But it’s July 4th so I’m going to leave it for now.

unpopular opinion- I think this song is overrated. It also bothers me that “I have seen how it ends” doesn’t quite fit in the alloted space. I think there’s 5 beats in the music but 6 syllables in the words and she extends “how” for 2 beats. She shoves 7 in a 5 so “it” gets lost. She could have fixed it so easily by saying “I’ve seen how it end” Also that concept is cliche.

47. I Will

More catchy than the Joke. Cello snippets are nice. Falsetto. Lyrics.

46. Wasted

Instrumental bridge. Lyrics.

45. Whatever You Do

Soft Cello. I love the line, “never said I’m sorry but I meant it.” Orchestral. scream note ending

44. Late Morning Lullaby

Call back to Dreams. More twin harmony. Exciting bridge. Singing and lyrics.

The fact there are 43 songs ranked great and higher speaks to the quality of Brandi Carlile’s work. The numbers sound pretty high, but these are all, solidly great to perfect songs:

Greats:

43. In My own Eyes-

Bridge different from the song. Captures a yearning sound in the singing. (Gr)

42. My Song-

Strong guitar. Angsty. Emotive singing. Visual lyrics. “My mind is full of razors” is such a good line.

41. The Mother-

I like that this is real, not saccharine. This one is always a crowd favorite.  I had this lower in the rank only because Brandi had played it at so many live shows I was at, and I got oversaturated with it.  Also, I’m not a mother.  But after seeing the YouTube video where Brandi plays it to the female inmates, I just…  Go watch it!  (G-Gr)

40. Shadow on the Wall-

Strong harmonies-more twins involvement is nice.

39. Caroline-

Upbeat.  unique tempo to the catalog. Elton John.

38. That Year-

I had ranked it quite a bit lower because it’s a slow song that is super-depressing.  Deals with suicide without stigmatizing the person. Detailed. But I had to move it up because it’s such a powerful story and heartfelt message.

37. Touching the Ground-

Lyrics. Catchy. (G-Gr)

36. Hiding My Heart-

Call back to the story.

35. Sugartooth

Tells an entire story. Heavy subject matter of addiction and suicide packaged in a surprisingly upbeat tune.

34. Follow-

Notes. More of an instrumental break down.  (G-Gr)

33. Throw It All Away-

Notes. Great visual lyrics. Deep. (G-Gr)

32. Losing Heart-

Catchy chorus. More beat. Interesting beat. (G-Gr)

31. Josephine-

Falsetto harmony. Catchy chorus. (Gr)

30. I’ll Still be There-

If it all- note. The song builds. Then it all gets even stronger at the end. Kind of melting the middle.  (G-Gr)

29. Downpour-

Can hear Cello well.  Low register. (G-Gr)

28. Fall Apart Again-

One of my fave lyrics in her whole catalog: “And I think the world of myself but the world doesn’t think much of me.” (Gr)

27. Have You Ever-

Really fun tempo and a beat like footsteps. Inclusive of twin harmonies. (Gr)

26. Looking Out-

More complex backing than Fall Apart. Suitcase on my chest. Afraid of… List. Someone loves you high note & rock out.  (G-Gr)

On to the top 25 songs in the catalog:

25. Again Today-

Low register. Speeds up and jams at the end. Twins are more involved than pride. More of a tone change than Pride & Joy. (Gr)

24. Pride and Joy-

Wow-singing is strong throughout the entire song. Very orchestral. Instrumental from soft to intense.  (Gr)

23. What Can I Say-

So catchy. Conveys longing and religion human failure without being OTT. (G-Gr)

Awesome:

22. Alibi-

Unique sound to her catalog. Softly alt-punk is a fun experiment without changing the whole genre. Good harmony and beat. A bit repetitive. The sticks at the end and syncopation make it interesting.

21. What Did I Ever Come Here for? 

I really identify with these lyrics of putting yourself out there, going back to someone comfortable. Wanting them to look at your intentions, then being rejected. Catchy also.

20. Party of One-

More complex. Lyrically based. Instrumental swell. Depressing. Once, Brandi actually responded to my tweet regarding this song! Screen-grab is going in the scrapbook.

19. Before it breaks-

Lyrics. Instrumental jam.

18. Harder to Forgive-

Good writing. I like how it calls out someone who traumatized her without being mean or over dramatic. Like a march. I think the echo effect is put to good use here.  kazoo. Breakdown. Scream note.

17. Mama Werewolf-

Concept & lyrics. I know this is going to be a major-favorite at the concert [P.S. I had originally used ‘mega’-favorite, as in the shark.  Big, large, upsize.  And fuck Trump for (among many, many, many other things) ruining that word.]

16. The Stranger at my Door

I love all the cowboy sounds embedded in this one. It’s western folksy in the best way. best ending!

The top 15 songs of the catalog:

15. Dying Day-

Prelude to all the ‘home is your heart’ series of songs. Low-register AND high notes-very strong singing.The ‘dum. Da da dun dum’ end of phrases are good.

14. Right on Time-

Notes! Base. I like the acknowledgement and accountability for hurting another.

13. Hold Out Your Hand-

I like how fast she sings. Then also how it slows on the chorus. It’s surprisingly high difficulty to get the verses out that fast. Notes. Is this the most FUN song in the catalog?!

12. Rise Again-

Faster. Notes! Beat. Twin harmony. Rocks out at the end.

11. The Things I regret-

The most awesome of the awesome songs.  Trying to convince herself to let herself be happy. High energy. more lyrical. Hand claps.

Elites:

10. That Wasn’t Me- 

It was the lead single for Bear Creek, but totally different from every other song on the album. The piano along with the harmonies sound nice. A good rehab song. Earnest.

9. Broken Horses- 

The singing is A+! Not only the notes but playing with voice. Lyrics are meaningful and full of symbolism. I like ending a relationship and also having no guilt about that. Standing up for yourself is important. I like the tempo changes. Maybe too many repetitive choruses. Broken Horses doesn’t mean breaking a horse, which bothers me.

8. Closer to You

More catchy than Broken Horses even if the notes don’t compare.

7. Sinners, Saints, and Fools-

Instrumentals sound full and great. The story is a fun concept and not too OTT churchy. Scream note! The strings squeaky. Piano is chaotic. Motorcycle end.

6. Wherever is Your Heart-

I like the sentiment. I like the underlying fast tempo. This song makes me excited. The notes in the chorus sound so good. Twin harmony. The Falsetto back there adds a lot. Beats. The slower refrain is an interesting change and conveys an inner dialogue and strife. This song is particularly good bc the instrumentals and singing style are very upbeat but the words are pretty sad and depressing. A tiny bit over Closer to You bc it starts slow and changes speed and has a notable bridge is generally more complex

5. Mainstream Kid-

It’s really fun to hear Brandi be more edgy. The social commentary of the lyrics is awesome.  I ranked this higher than the prior 2 sings (even though I love them both a lot) bc the singing is so powerful throughout. And also some extra points for taking a risk. Scream singing is fun and powerful. The guitar repeats, beat, and even handclaps are all good elements of the song that jazz me up. The pulsing and lower register prior to a growl note is such a good end!

4. Hard Way Home-

Harmony that sounds like sirens is a great opener. Love the pace it’s just like walking. I can really get behind the message of doing things the hard way. It speaks to me a bit more than Wherever is Your Heart’s subject matter. Love the “I’ll tell you how I wanna live… Lyric. The syncopation at the end makes me amped up!

Top 3 elites:

3. Dreams-

I like the beat and the more rock sound. The strong singing and harmonies are present but packaged in a harder, more rhythmic backing. Also, I’ll never forget seeing this one live at Spokane’s knitting factory. Brandi was so cute and cool and I wanted to meet her so bad!

2. Raise Hell-

This song never fails to make me hyped! I love the message and the yells during the sock. That beat and even the handclaps. Her singing! I love to sing this anytime especially at a concert. When Brandi opened for Dave at the Gorge, the poster we made said, “Raise Hell.”

#1 song of the whole catalog:

1. The Story-

I listened to each track 2-3 times with an open mind and based my ranking solely on each song’s merits. And it’s no surprise that the band’s originally most well known track landed on top of the list. It builds from slower to rock. And the notes! It’s always exciting to hear it, and now I like to watch the indoctrinated take it in for the first time. It captures the essence of the band.

My Notes and Deliberations:

BRANDI CARLILE CATALOGUE RANKINGS

Elite 10, Awesome 6, Great 3, Good 1, Neutral 0, Meh -3, Skip -6

Brandi Carlile 2005

  1. Follow” (Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 4:13 G-Gr 2
  2. “What Can I Say” (Tim Hanseroth) – 2:50 G-Gr 2.6
  3. “Closer to You” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 2:54 E 10
  4. “Throw It All Away” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:43 G-Gr 2.7
  5. “Happy” (Carlile) – 2:32 M-N -1 (3 listen kept spacing out)
  6. “Someday Never Comes” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 2:47 M -3
  7. “Fall Apart Again” (Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:37 Gr 3.1
  8. “In My Own Eyes” (Carlile) – 3:31 Gr 3
  9. “Gone” (Carlile, Paul Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:05 G 1
  10. “Tragedy” (Carlile) – 3:45 G-Gr 2.5

The Story 2007

  1. “Late Morning Lullaby” (Brandi Carlile) – 3:27 G 1
  2. The Story” (Phil Hanseroth) – 3:58 E 10 #1
  3. “Turpentine” (Carlile) – 2:58 G-Gr 2
  4. “My Song” (Carlile) – 4:28 G-Gr 2.4
  5. “Wasted” (Carlile) – 3:47 G 1.2
  6. “Have You Ever” (Phil Hanseroth) – 2:32  Gr 3.1
  7. “Josephine” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:02 Gr 2.9
  8. “Losing Heart” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth, Phil Hanseroth) – 3:35 Gr 3
  9. “Cannonball” (Carlile) – 3:52 G-Gr 1.2
  10. “Until I Die” (Carlile) – 4:06 G-Gr 1.5
  11. “Downpour” (Carlile) – 3:14 G-Gr 1.9
  12. “Shadow on the Wall” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:15 G-Gr 
  13. “Again Today” (Carlile) – 10:38 Gr 3.3 (after slow part really good )
    • Contains a hidden track, “Hiding My Heart” (Tim Hanseroth) G 1.1

Live at Easy Street 2007

  1. “Closer to You”
  2. The Story
  3. “Have You Ever”
  4. “Turpentine”
  5. “Fall Apart Again”
  6. “Downpour”
  7. “Josephine”

Give Up the Ghost 2009

  1. Looking Out” – 4:18 G-Gr 5
  2. “Dying Day” (Tim Hanseroth) – 3:33 Gr-A 4 (Brandi’s singing conveys longing perfectly. Ending note!)
  3. “Pride and Joy” – 4:20 Gr 3.1 (Starts slow & quiet and builds speed & intensity through the song. Instrumental break.)
  4. “Dreams” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:31 E 10 #3
  5. “That Year” – 3:35 Gr 3 (Lyrically dense and meaningful but also slow and depressing)
  6. “Caroline” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:36 Gr 3.3 (Fun song and Elton John)
  7. “Before It Breaks” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:57 Gr-A 4.1 (The lyrics touch me. The instrumental break is strong.)
  8. “I Will” – 4:09 G
  9. “If There Was No You” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth) – 2:39 N
  10. “Touching the Ground” (Tim Hanseroth) – 3:17 G-Gr 4
  11. “Oh Dear” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth) – 2:50 N-M

Live

Bear Creek 2012

Hard Way Home”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth3:21 E 10.1
2.“Raise Hell”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth E 10.2 #24:08
3.“Save Part of Yourself”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth N-G .53:22
4.That Wasn’t MeBrandi Carlile A-E3:42
5.“Keep Your Heart Young”Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth S3:20
6.“100”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth G 13:21
7.“A Promise to Keep”Tim Hanseroth G-Gr 2.54:02
8.“I’ll Still Be There”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth G-Gr 2.8 (high note)3:26
9.“What Did I Ever Come Here For”Phil Hanseroth A3:40
10.“Heart’s Content”Brandi Carlile G 0.9 (Cello. Sounds like Doris Day.)3:34
11.“Rise Again”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth A4:11
12.“In the Morrow”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth Gr4:02
13.“Just Kids”Brandi Carlile, Jared Faw. M-N (Very slow. Like the cycling piano. Good to close the album. 6:47
Total length:50:56

Firewatchers Daughter 2015

TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Wherever Is Your Heart”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth3:50 A-E
2.“The Eye”Carlile, Tim Hanseroth3:35 G 0.9
3.“The Things I Regret”Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth3:26 Gr-A
4.“Mainstream Kid”Carlile, Tim Hanseroth4:19 E
5.“Beginning to Feel the Years”Phil Hanseroth3:08 G-Gr 1.5
6.“Wilder (We’re Chained)”Tim Hanseroth3:32 G 1.1
7.“Blood Muscle Skin & Bone”Phil Hanseroth4:16 G-Gr 2.0
8.“I Belong to You”Carlile4:30 N-G (end speeds up)
9.“Alibi”Tim Hanseroth3:00 A
10.“The Stranger at My Door”Carlile3:42 E (Cowboy gallop, twin’s backing. That sample at the end!)
11.“Heroes and Songs”Carlile2:47 M
12.“Murder in the City”Scott Yancey Avett, Timothy Seth Avett2:53 G 1.0

By the Way I Forgive You 2018

Every Time I Hear That Song”4:01N
2.The Joke4:39 G 1.1
3.“Hold Out Your Hand”4:22 A (The fast syncopation. Style of storytelling country like Jonny Cash)
4.“The Mother”3:17 G-Gr 1.3
5.“Whatever You Do”4:07 N-G
6.“Fulton County Jane Doe”4:43 G 0.9
7.“Sugartooth”4:28 Gr
8.“Most of All”3:51 G 1.2zs
9.“Harder to Forgive”4:06 A-Gr 4(When it slows down. And Brandi’s singing. Kazoo backing.)
10.“Party of One”5:47 A-Gr 3.5 (Depressing. I like how each piece of the song is like an entirely different song.)
Total length:43:25

In These Silent Days 2021


Length
1.Right on Time3:05 A 6.25
2.“You and Me on the Rock” (featuring Lucius)3:50 N (This song bothers me the same as when TS says, “talk real SLOW so your mama don’t e.” Like, what? I just start thinking- where does Brandi live and how did they dig the foundation if it’s on rock?  Steals the enjoyment.
3.“This Time Tomorrow”3:26 G 1.1
4.“Broken Horses”5:03 E
5.“Letter to the Past”3:40 G 1.4 (stonewall rubber band bothers me also)
6.“Mama Werewolf”3:41 A 6
7.“When You’re Wrong”4:26 N-G
8.“Stay Gentle”2:28 G 1
9.“Sinners, Saints and Fools”4:32 E #4
10.“Throwing Good After Bad”4:07 Gr
Total length:38:16

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