Brandi Carlile’s “In These Silent Days” drives deep emotionally and politically

ontributing writer

Brandi Carlile’s new album, “In These Silent Days,” debuted Oct. 1. The album featured 10 new songs and one guest artist, Lucius. The title was reminiscent of her last album, “By The Way, I Forgive You;” the titles were embedded in her song lyrics, and made for some deeper listening. 

The album is riveting and it begs for deeper listening. The album opens on a ballad “Right On Time,” saying “it wasn’t right, but it was right on time.” It was a tribute to personal growth — things that caused pain and movement. For me, it was resoundingly relatable — an ode to relationships and life experiences that have gone wrong that I’m resilient from. Her talent in storytelling with expressive vocals and diverse dynamics was on full display in her newest work.

In “Sinners, Saints, and Fools,” she sings about an evangelical man enforcing immigration laws. She paints a picture shockingly similar to the situation at the Southern border of the U.S. “By the time he got to Heaven/ It was surrounded by a wall/ The pearly gates were locked up tight/ The golden chains and all/ They said, ‘We cannot let just anyone/ Walk-in here anymore/ You didn’t do it by the book’/ And then they pointed to the floor.” Carlile gives us her interpretation of justice in the afterlife, with a nod to the divisive political climate within the United States today. 

“Mama Werewolf” is a layered, complex tune about accountability, and Carlile reveals a thoughtful, albeit troubled side. The guitars take the lead in the music, urgently driving Carlile’s vocals. She sings about a “silver bullet,” a method used for killing werewolves, which is also a metaphor for simple solutions to seemingly fix complicated problems. Throughout the piece, the singer weaves intimate storytelling with hard rock to create songs with true emotional weight to them. 

Carlile refuses to be boxed in her newest piece — compared to her previous Grammy award-winning album that carried with it a cohesive tone — perhaps almost to a fault. She covers territory already covered in “Stay Gentle” in a style reminiscent of her previous album. Her songs range from sweet ballads to fast-tempo hard rock songs. In the transition from “Sinners, Saints and Fools” to “Throwing Good After Bad,” I found myself in a state of shock — I was still processing the harsh, driving chords from “Sinners” when the sweet and soulful piano began for her closing song. I was unable to fully grasp her last piece upon first listening.

In conclusion, I’d give “In These Silent Days” four out of five Big Oles. Her album is deeply personal, and I could find relatability consistently within her songs. While some of her songs don’t fully develop as well as they could, the piece overall carries beautiful confidence and undeniable femininity with it. Carlile experimented with new sounds, styles, and layers, and she surely did not disappoint. 

 

4 out of 5 Big Oles

spens1@stolaf.edu

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