Brandi Carlile and I are the same age. Even if it weren’t true in human years, we would be the same age in soul years. She gets me. We are soul mates not in a romantic sense but in the sense that her soul tells my soul what it feels because my soul is cripplingly inarticulate. Maybe we aren’t soul mates, then. Maybe we are soul mentor/mentees, which admittedly doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same way.
I noticed that Brandi was better at explaining how I feel than I am when I heard “Late Morning Lullaby” for the first time. That song is my anthem—not to be confused with my jam, which is P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass,” in case it comes up. I mean, have you heard “Late Morning Lullaby”? It’s about sleeping in.
Of course, it’s also about that terrible feeling that sometimes happens when I’m trying to fall asleep and I suddenly can’t stop thinking about all the things I didn’t do and all the things I’m not. I know I’m not the only one this happens to, but Brandi makes me feel like it’s something that we share that is just ours. “Late Morning Lullaby” also touches on a common theme in the songs I’ve claimed as anthems. Like “Real World” by Matchbox Twenty, Brandi’s song talks about ignoring the real world or maybe just not being able to connect to it, which is the way I prefer to think about my disposition even though the former may be more true.
When I heard Brandi’s new album for the first time, around 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5—aka the day it was released—my soul overflowed with our symmetry once more. The first lines of the first track, “Hard Way Home,” go like this: “I sometimes lose my faith in luck/ I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
This new album, Bear Creek, is very good. It may be her best one yet, but I’ll need some more time to sit with it before I decide if it can unseat The Story. Despite our souls being interconnected, I don’t really know that much about Brandi Carlile. I don’t study her the way I do Billy Joel and the Indigo Girls. My brain only has room for so much intellectual infatuation, I guess. So I don’t know why the new album is called Bear Creek. I assume it’s some kind of place she likes, which seems fitting because her music is a place I like.
There are so many songs to fawn over on Bear Creek, but “Keep Your Heart Young” seems especially appropriate for this time of the year. I want to write out the lyrics in all the high school graduation cards I’m sending to my cousins and enclose a CD of just this song.
No, she didn’t write it. She picked it and then she sang the hell out of it. I also like the little dig at pop country she makes in that video. Brandi’s genre is hard to pin down. There are a lot of songs on Bear Creek that are clearly bluegrass but not all of them are. There’s even a weird Foster the People/Gotye type tune called “Just Kids” that at first I was unsure of but now, like all the rest, I like it a lot.
Indeed, I haven’t been so instantly infatuated with an album in its entirely since I first encountered Amy Ray’s Prom.
Now, let’s not be insane. Bear Creek is no Prom. Nothing will ever be Prom. Even if something were as perfect as Prom, I’m not sure I’d even recognize it. For me, music is as much about timing as it is about the quality of the music itself. Bear Creek arrived in my life just when I needed it. That’s just further proof that Brandi’s soul and my soul are on parallel paths. Hers is just a little farther up the road than mine.