In the wake of her relatively formal and staid orchestral concert album, Brandi Carlile promises that her upcoming fourth studio album "sounds like a band that's absolutely pent up and totally overflowing with rock 'n' roll and couldn't wait to get in the studio and do these songs."
Carlile -- who released "Live at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony" on May 3 -- tells Billboard.com that she and her band recorded 18 songs in a barn studio in Bear Creek, Wash., during March and early April with Trina Shoemaker, whose voluminous producing and engineering credits include Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam and Queens of the Stone Age. Unlike other albums, Carlile says the new songs "aren't road-tested, so they're full of a lot of angst and a lot of questioning, uncertainty, which I think any band needs at some point. Your brain won't go into auto-pilot road because you're not really sure or too locked into them yet."
Carlile expects to preview some of the new songs, including "That Wasn't Me" and "Rattled," when she tours this summer with Ray LaMontagne. "I have no self-control," she says with a laugh. The album's release date is "totally up to the record label (Columbia) at this point," and the title is still up in the air, although Carlile says that she'd "love to go the way of Elton John and name the record after the studio. It would be one thing if the studio was called something stupid, but Bear Creek is pretty cool."
Until the album comes out, however, Carlile's fans will have to make due with "Live at Benaroya Hall," which was recorded over two nights last November with arrangements by Sean O'Loughlin and Paul Buckmaster. In addition to Carlile's own songs, the 12-song set includes her renditions of John's "Sixty Years On" with the original Buckmaster arrangement, Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
"I always wanted my fourth record to be a live album even before we ever had a record out on a major label," Carlile explains. "I just thought it would be a cool way to wrap up three records. "I thought we would probably just go on tour and record the whole tour and do a compilation from it... but when the idea first came about to make symphony charts and perform with an orchestra, right around the third song of the first show I said, 'This is what I want to do for the live album.' It's pretty amazing -- and even more amazing when I'm on stage in the middle of it."
Carlile, who's back on the road for some headlining shows before hooking up with LaMontagne on May 25, also recently recorded backing vocals for Indigo Girl Amy Ray's next solo album, and she's been working on music for a Warner Bros. film that she can't yet reveal. "I love writing for television and movies," Carlile says. "Focused writing is something I'm really into these days." She's also been working with some other artists but categorizes that as "more s*** I can't reveal."