I alluded earlier to the lack of compelling female singer-songwriters on my list, but Brandi Carlile was the lone exception. I wasn't entirely convinced by her last album The Story, but Give Up The Ghost has converted me into a true believer. Very few songwriters spring to mind who put their hearts so nakedly on the line, and Carlile's passionate vocals and performances reflect that approach.
Surprisingly, producer Rick Rubin, who has a tendency to sort of dry out performances, actually delivers the most lush backdrop for Carlile's songs to date. The album's back half at first seems to grind to a crawl, but upon repeat listenings it sounds to me a very carefully chosen pace. The deliberate, delicate craftsmanship may not deliver the breakthrough that her record company is hoping for, but in my opinion Giving Up The Ghost has certainly propelled Brandi Carlile to the A-list of singer-songwriters.