Year in Music 2017

Brandi Carlile, "Give Up the Ghost"


Brandi Carlile knows how to wring every last emotion from a lyric. On her third studio album, "Give Up the Ghost," the singer/songwriter channels heartache, fear, nostalgia and joy in nearly the same breath, creating a vivid pastiche of alt-folk pop. The best evidence of this is found on the song "Before It Breaks," a haunting post-breakup ballad full of Robert Frost-like imagery, where she sorrowfully sings, "Will the collar on my coat, Lord help me, kill off the cold/Will the rain drops sting my eyes or keep them closed?" By contrast, the uptempo track "Caroline" soars merrily, with a welcome cameo on vocals and piano by Elton John. Meanwhile, the cut "Touching the Ground" is more subtle but no less arresting as Carlile sings over simple guitar strums, "Why do my troubles turn true/Whenever I rest my eyes on you?" "Give Up the Ghost" is another rich offering from this distinctive female talent. --Monica Herrera