It's not promising: "Brandi." But one listen reveals an artist who probably never dotted that "i" with a little heart. Like her name, Carlile's music seems to have its origins in that eclectic period of pop radio between 1974 and 1984: On the opener, "Follow," she starts out sounding like Emmylou Harris but quickly morphs into something more like Freddie Mercury. The 23-year-old has a fine hand with a song as well: "Happy" pairs lyrics like "I'm happy/Can't you see" with music and a delivery that prove the opposite. Sometimes she goes overboard, into hair-band-vocalist territory, but mostly she purveys top-notch, unfussy pop songs with a rock sensibility. She's a little like the wonderful LP--and a lot like Sheryl Crow with balls.
First printed in Jan/Feb 2006