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Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR's All Songs Considered features your favorite musicians performing at Bob Boilen's desk in the NPR Music office. This is the AUDIO only archive.Are you a fancy A/V nerd and need video? Visit our new Tiny Desk Concert video channel. Eye-popping video and all of the music you've come to expect.

Brandi Carlile: Tiny Desk Concert

It's possible to place countless movies and TV shows within a very specific time frame based on whether they feature certain songs: Baja Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out," Smash Mouth's "All Star" and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Home" all provide a form of pop-cultural carbon dating, as well as signifiers of a tone that's both specific and universal. Brandi Carlile's 2007 hit "The Story" didn't quite reach those songs' level of ubiquity — it popped up on Grey's Anatomy during the height of that show's powers, and was prominently featured in a series of commercials during the 2008 Summer Olympics — but it did establish Carlile as a singer with a huge, powerful voice and a gift for connecting with listeners on a gut level. It was a song of its moment, yet still timeless in its message.

Carlile's new album, Bear Creek, follows nicely in that spirit (vocal power, lyrical accessibility) without trying to replicate the specific moves of the ballad that made her name. In the tradition of the best bluesy folk-rock singers who preceded her — think Janis Joplin or Melissa Etheridge, but with less bluster than either — Carlile sings with restrained power and from-the-gut force.

She's aided, on all her records and in this concert at the NPR Music offices, by twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth, whose guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies help ground her within the impeccable chug of an airtight rock band. Performing together — whether storming wildly in "Raise Hell" or swooning gently in the string-swept set-closer "A Promise to Keep" — Carlile and her band sound tremendously assured. They're in complete control, even (or perhaps especially) when they're singing heart-on-sleeve songs about messy lives, loudly lived.

Set List:

  • "Raise Hell"
  • "That Wasn't Me"
  • "A Promise To Keep"
  • Credits:

    Producer and Editor: Bob Boilen; Videographers: Becky Lettenberger and Nick Michael; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Blake Lipthratt/NPR

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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