She’s no sugar coated country queen – in fact Brandy Clark offers biting commentary on 21st century living with a strong emphasis on powerful women fighting to be seen and heard. HRH Mag wanted to know more…
Brandy Clark is no barrel of laughs. But she likes it that way. Without her uniquely cynical take on a series of utterly depressing scenarios and compelling tales of triumph in the face of of adversity there would be no depth to the Clark canon. And with only two solo albums to her name it’s already deeper than most of the emotional scars the 42-year-old proudly carries as colourful badges of honour.
Of course the Washington native has been around a lot longer than her personal discography would suggest. A prolific and successful songwriter, Clark has penned standout tunes for a Who’s Who of Nashville royalty including Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban and Darius Rucker.
But thank the Lord she had the courage of her conviction and struck out as a solo artist: her lyrics are legendary but catch the multi-talented artist up close and personal and it’s immediately clear just how powerful and affecting her vocal range can be. On this latest UK run it’s little wonder fans have been leaving venues open mouthed and craving more – Clark has never sounded better.
Second album Big Day In A Small Town might be 14 months old but there’s plenty of life in the Grammy nominated record yet. Stripped down – and benefitting from the beautiful tone of an upright bass – the very best songs from Clark’s breakthrough release screamed authenticity, emotion and a social consciousness.
Yes, there are the recurring themes of alcohol, tobacco, single moms and dirty dishes but there’s no bland repetition. By her own admission Clark regularly revisits her favourite subject matter for fresh inspiration but each take on a familiar story boasts a biting twist. And the title track to Big Day In A Small Town also happens to benefit from an ear worm of a riff.
But back to that voice. Clark veers from soulful to sultry, gritty to graceful and everything in between. It’s utterly enchanting, reassuringly expressive and deeply engaging – maybe it shouldn’t come as so much of a surprise but compared to Clark’s often understated studio work, her live show is on a different level.
Opener Hold My Hand – hilariously missed by a latecomer who went on to request it during the encore – encouraged a wrapt crowd to follow their favourite every step of the way. They did so loyally but the reaction was initially reserved: perhaps the majority were simply in awe of the unfolding drama.
Hungover and Daughter are symptomatic of Clark’s ability to cut to the chase and deliver those uncomfortable truths – both were brilliant highlights here. That it took until her late 30s for one of country music’s most fearless performers to find her voice is truly remarkable and just a tad confusing. But where Clark is concerned it’s a case of better late than never.
Expect the supremely talented singer songwriter to enjoy many more big days in small towns. And a few big days in huge cities. It’s the least Clark deserves.