Record Of The Week # 16

April 25, 2017

Live From Los Angeles – Brandy Clark

I suppose I am back into vinyl, in a small way, mainly because of the complete nostalgic pleasure in thumbing through LP’s and the very size and feel of it. I like the practicality of CD’s and the quality of sound, however a heavy vinyl LP played on a good sound system is audio nirvana. So the strategy has been to collect a few second hand albums that I didn’t have the money to acquire when I was a teenager and also look out for a few new things that were special.

Record Store Day, now in its 10th year generates special releases. These are limited editions that make them scarce and sad old men hover around the shops on April 22nd every year to spend lots of money and then wander out into the daylight with crazed and happy faces clutching albums by Uriah Heep and Budgie. (Yes, I was sorely tempted).

In fact I jest as there are also lots of young people enjoying vinyl – in Week 48 of 2016 there was a greater value of vinyl sold than downloads in the UK. If you’d added the value of second hand vinyl sold as well then digital downloads would have been hit out of the park. Of course streaming is the main way of accessing music nowadays but if I relied on it in Acaster Malbis, with our appalling broadband, then I wouldn’t listen to much.

So I saw that Brandy Clark was releasing a live album for Record Store Day. Breezing into the local emporium – Vinyl Eddie’s – I asked if they would have this on the day? Sharp intake of breath that was code for ‘this is York and why the hell would we stock a Country album even by Johnny Cash, let alone Brandy who?’. They found it on the internet and said it was a US only release but they might know a man… So digging the garden on Sunday I got the call saying that Brandy was in town.

Bliss. An acoustic album with Brandy and her guitar/vocalist accompanist, Miles Aubrey, recorded Live in Los Angeles in September 2016 was mine. Brandy is now making her way as an important Country music artist after long years paying her dues on the way up. The two albums came a long way into her music career and have both been remarkable with blissful traditional country melodies, lyrics that tell stories about love, cheating, drinking and the Country music ‘full nine yards’ of chaos and always a lot of humour, which is a hallmark of much good Country music.

Brandy has earned her time in the spotlight after being a ‘go to’ songwriter. Her credits will be found on the albums by Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Kacey Musgraves, Sheryl Crow, Toby Keith, Keith Urban et al. It was time that she grabbed the mic and had the super trouper pointed in her direction.

So now by herself then each album has gold on it but the highlights are where she finds a sad scene to sing about. On Live From Los Angeles two of the best Country songs ever to have graced these ears appear on each side. “Hold My Hand” tells the story of being at an event with her beau when his beautiful and confident significant ex appears and her partner is embarrassed and uncomfortable. She offers advice that in order to tell her of the fact that he has moved on and is also confident of where he is now, and who he is with, that he should show this by holding her hand.

Since “You’ve Gone To Heaven” is 4½ minutes of heartbreak – a cataloguing of the events and emotions that have befallen a family since her father died. Her beautiful voice on a wonderfully paced and sparsely arranged song just crushes you.

There are other great tracks on the album from her first two albums and all each probably worth a blog.

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