After listening to her critically acclaimed album "12 Stories" almost every day since it was released on i-Tunes last month, my wife and I saw Brandy Clark for the first time a few nights ago at the Bluebird Cafe. We were not disappointed. The show was in the round and also included songwriters Josh Osborne (who toured with Brandy opening for Sheryl Crow), Jimmy Robbins and Jeff Cohen. Each writer sang 6 songs.
Here's Brandy's six in the order performed, which included 3 from her new cd and 3 she co-wrote for other artists:
1. "Mama's Broken Heart" (Miranda Lambert - written with Kacey Musgraves & Shane McAnally) I like Brandy's rendition better than ML's.
2. "Hold My Hand" - written with Mark Stephen Jones. Great ballad - my favorite song on the album. She's out with her man when her man's gorgeous former? girlfriend "walks up and says 'hello, it's been awhile' " to him. She's feeling vulnerable and needs reassurance. The chorus:
"Don't let this moment linger
Now would be the time
To reach out with your fingers and get them tangled up with mine
Let her know for sure that I'm more than just a soft place to land
Oh, this would be a good time
This'd be a real good time to hold my hand".
3. "Get High" - solely written by Brandy, she said that it was written with a particular friend in mind. The friend now knows and is cool with it.
My wife and I were sitting against the rear wall of the Bluebird, in back of Jeff Cohen, directly facing Brandy. After singing "Get High", she said that before she sang it, she saw this couple in front of her and was afraid the song might offend them (She didn't say it but i'm guessing she meant because we're old, we might object to a song about rolling a fat one. Actually, we love the song.) She continued to say "and here they are singing along, they knew every word". Well, yeah. But we were mouthing the lyrics, not singing out loud. At least I don't believe we were. Were we? The Bluebird does have a Shhh! policy. (Sometimes, however, the artist will ask the audience to sing along. Don Schlitz has been known to have the audience sing the "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" chorus to "The Gambler".)
Here are some of those "offensive" lyrics: "some times the only way to get by is to get high", "a couple of tokes and her troubles don't seem all that tall" and she "talks to God says lord help me accept what I cannot change, but until I learn to do that, thanks for the mary jane". Great line.
4 "Stripes" - written with Shane McAnally & Matt Jenkins. Shane wanted a song with Orange in it. She catches her boyfriend cheating. Why doesn't she kill him?
"There's no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion
The only thing savin' your life
Is that I don't look good in orange and I hate stripes".
5 "You Can Come Over" (Craig Campbell - written with Mark Narmore & Jessie Jo Dillon - daughter of Dean Dillon) "but you can't come in". Why? - "you'd just stay long enough, to leave me again". Good song, an album track from CC's "Never Regret" album.
6 "Better Dig Two" (Band Perry - written with Shane McAnally & Trevor Rosen)
Brandy's album "12 Stories" has been praised by the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, NPR, Rolling Stone and numerous country music blogs. It's a great album and she's a great singer and story teller. She's at least a co-writer on every song. If somehow you've discovered this site and don't have time to read all those album reviews, here's a little bit - brief comments, partial lyrics, etc. - to give you a feel for the other songs from "12 Stories" that were not part of her set:
"What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven" (Mark Stephen Jones), "will take me there tonight". Not your everyday cheating song.
the song begins:
"I know I shouldn't be here tonight
I hardly know this man
It's been a long time since I felt as pretty, as he tells me I am".
The chorus begins:
"There's so many shades of grey but this is black and white
He's some stranger's husband and I'm some stranger's wife".
"If I step into that elevator, there ain't no turning around
And I don't know what scares me most, the ride up or the ride down"
"Just Like Him" (Shane McAnally & Jessie Jo Dillon) Brandy has said that the song is not about her father.
"I used to say that I'd be damned
If I'd ever fall in love with a man
Like the one Mama wasted her youth on"
"In Some Corner" (Trent Jeffcoat) she can't let go.
"Oh, everything I love is in the chair
In some corner, in some bar, somewhere"
"Take a Little Pill" (Shane McAnally & Mark D. Sanders) the chorus:
"if one won't work, another one will, got a little hurt, you take a little pill',
has lines like "what you can't cure, you can medicate", etc.
"Pray to Jesus" (Shane McAnally) "and we play the lotto, ain't but two ways we can change tomorrow". The song begins, "We live in trailers and apartments too".
"Crazy Women" (Jessie Jo Dillon & Shane McAnally) "are made by crazy men".
Love the alliteration in the last line before before the first singing of the chorus: "They hauled her off in high heels and handcuffs".
"Illegitimate Children" (Deanna Walker)
"Spirits are up inhibitions are down
Same story's unfolding all over town
From the barroom to the bedroom
The path's weathered and worn
This is how illegitimate children are born".
"Hungover" (Jessie Jo Dillon & Shane McAnally) She did more than just the laundry while he was hungover. She got to know herself and dumped him.
"That girl in the mirror I got to know her
All while you were hungover".
"The Day She Got Divorced" (Mark D. Sanders & Shane McAnally) from her no good drunken husband.
"She wasn't that sorry, wasn't that sad
Couldn't love him any less or hate him anymore
The day she got divorced".
Besides the great lyrics and music, another plus to Brandy's album:
There are no run-on songs, 3 minute songs stretched to 4 or 5 minutes for no good reason. Miranda Lambert's "All Kinds of Kinds", a really good song written by Don Henry and Phillip Coleman, could have been ended at the 3 minute mark but continues for about another minute and a half. There's no intention to pick on ML or the writers. It's just an example. Lots of artists don't know how or when to end a song.
Buy this album now!
I can't recall them all, but here are some of the songs co-written and sung by the other writers appearing with Brandy that night:
Josh Osborne - "Drunk Last Night" - Eli Young Band, "Merry Go Round" - Kacey Musgraves, "We Are Tonight" - Billy Currington.
Jimmy Robbins - "We Were Us" - Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton's "Sure Be Cool if You Did", David Nail's "Whatever She's Got", Jake Owen's "One Little Kiss (Never Killed Nobody).
Jeff Cohen - "Holy Water" - Big & Rich, "Postcard from Paris" - Band Perry and Laura Bell Bundy's "Giddy On Up".
While not on the program, Shane McAnally was in the audience and sang "Fuzzy", a Randy Rogers Band song he wrote with Josh Osborne. Funny song.