Brandy Clark, an eleven time GRAMMY nominee and CMA Award-winning artist, is one of her generation’s most respected songwriters and musicians who is preparing to release her highly-anticipated new self-titled album May 19th on Warner Records. The new album showcases Clark’s versatility with eleven songs that span an emotional spectrum, including the second single just released, "She Smoked in the House." Brandy is also a stellar singer and performer to boot.
Brandy has shared of the song“She Smoked In The House", “I was driving around listening to a lot of Merle Haggard. I got stuck on ‘Are the Good Times Really Over for Good’ for weeks. That song really makes me think of my grandparents and that generation. I just couldn’t get away from it. So I started on a song called ‘They Smoked in the House,’ but I just couldn’t connect with it in the way that I needed to. I remembered someone once telling me that to be general, you must be specific and so I pivoted and started working on ‘SHE Smoked in the House.’ The ‘SHE’ is my grandma Ruth. To this day, my grandma Ruth is my favorite character to ever walk the planet. Looking back, I wrote this song because I was missing her and the things that she valued in life. I never thought that it would ever be on a record. It was for me….but now it’s for you too.” This is a perfect example of how the really succesful songwriters take from their own life expeirences to convey a story to their listeners.
“She Smoked In The House” is the second song unveiled, the first single, “Buried,” debuted last month to critical acclaim and comments noting Clark's inexorable talents as both a songwriter and vocal interpreter and noting her as one of our greatest living Country songwriters.
The album "Brandy Clark" is produced by fellow Pacific Northwest native Brandi Carlile. Brandy Clark and Brandi Carlile collaborated previously on the song “Same Devil” in 2020. "Brandy is one of the greatest songwriters I’ve ever known,” Carlile has espoused, “And I feel like I now know exactly who Brandy Clark is through the portal of this singular brilliantly written album."
Clark grew up in the tiny lumber town of Morton, Washington, and built her reputation writing songs for other artists, often in Nashville’s collaborative style, with Shane McAnally, and usually a third writer, too. She co-wrote the Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” in which the singer promises to love her partner till death do us part, then repeats the pledge with escalating tone that the vow starts to sound more like a threat. She co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” which, like “Better Dig Two,” was also a radio hit. Clark co-wrote LeAnn Rimes’s “Crazy Women,” Reba McEntire’s “The Day She Got Divorced,” Sunny Sweeney’s “Bad Girl Phase,” Hailey Whitters’s “Ten Year Town,” and Kacey Musgraves’s “Follow Your Arrow.” Clark’s songs have been released by too many artists to mention including not only the aforementioned, but the likes of George Strait, Toby Keith, Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow.
Clark writes most often about luckless characters, usually women, who are struggling, angry, or both, making the issues very relatable. Two of the songs from Clark’s second album, “Big Day in a Small Town,” 2016, including the album’s opener, “Soap Opera,” are about the melodramas that go down in rural places where nothing much seems to be going on. The woman in “Three Kids, No Husband", co-written with another of the finest country songwriters, Lori McKenna, has long ago dumped any dreams she might have had to make it big. Now she just hopes she can make it and has Clark singing “There’s how you plan it out, and how it turns out to be."
Brandy’s songs capture the routine frustrations and indignities of life in America and although her tone is never bitter or mocking, she doesn’t avoid conveying the ironies and absurdities of life in general either. In addition to Clark and Carlile, the album also includes special guests Derek Trucks and Lucius. Clark has stated, “This album is a return home to me in many ways. Musically it’s the rawest I’ve been since 12 Stories and maybe even rawer. Working with another recording artist on this project was such a gift that I didn’t even know I needed and changed the way I want to write songs and make records moving forward. My hope is that anyone who hears this album will feel the heart that I put into every note
Often, mid career self-titled albums such as this much anticipated release on May 19th of "Brandy Clark" go on to define an artist better than their earlier work . Maybe living life longer gives them more personal stories to relate in their songs and maybe its a natural progression for those songwriters that have an exceptional talent and passion for writing to continue to grow. Brandy Clark for exemplifies growth in her songwriting and other multiple talents in her new album and this release will go on to define her more so than even her wildly successful earlier works.
Moreover, adding to her accomplishments as a writer ,Clark and Shane McAnally join a short list of Nashville-based, Country music songwriters to open original musicals on Broadway. Together with longtime collaborator McAnally, Clark composed the music for the Broadway musical comedy, Shucked which opened in April at New York’s Nederlander Theatre.
Brandy Clark is no doubt one of her generation’s most respected songwriters and musicians. Amongst a multitude of other platitudes given to Brandy Clark the following stand out; “A storyteller of the highest caliber,” “No one is writing better country songs than Brandy Clark is”, and “One of the greatest living short-story-song writers in country (which really means in any genre).” You will agree as well if you listen to her upcoming "Brandy Clark" album for yourself.
By Deborah Gibson