In between records, Brandi Carlile has put out her first complete live album recorded with the Seattle Symphony last November. The addition of the symphony adds another dimension to a lot of the songs that focus more on Brandi’s last two studio records along with a few covers.
The record opens with a haunting cover of Elton John‘s Sixty Years On, which also appeared as a more intimate live performance on her debut album back in 2005. This version adds a whole new kind of depth thanks in part to the symphony, the hall and the audience themselves. A combination of the three brings new life to the song. The extra layers of strings, woodwind and brass almost give some of the songs a Disneyish feel to them. From 2009’s Give Up The Ghost,Looking Out sounds particularly interesting as the layers give it a natural dose of energy. Pride and Joy sounds as if it was written for this type of performance. Almost subdued in its original studio-recorded form, it shines alongside the symphony.
Brandi gets playful during Turpentine which would definitely be more fun in person rather than on record where she gets the audience to participate in some of the vocalizing for the final chorus of the song. A particular aspect I highly appreciate while attending live shows but could do without while listening to on just the audio. Likely due to my inability to attend firsthand and also makes for a lack of desire for multiple listens but it’s still fun to hear the first time through to help portray the kind of live performer Brandi is.
She steps aside for a cover of the Paul Simon-penned The Sound of Silence which is performed by band-members Phil and Tim Hanseroth, who have some pretty fascinating harmonizing skills. A little out of place on a disc that one would expect to focus on Brandi herself but she has had the same band for a few years now so in essence, these guys help make up Brandi Carlile. She does step out of the band by herself and the orchestra for a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s Hallelujah. Of course, it cannot top Jeff Buckley‘s but she holds her own.
Live At Benaroya Hall is a great collection of songs from Brandi that takes her out of her element and places her in charge of the Seattle Symphony. The combination is a natural sounding group of some of Brandi’s best songs with what would be a great night of live performances of them which luckily found its way onto CD and Digital formats. This oughta do until the upcoming new record in 2012.
1. Curtain Call
2. Sixty Years On
3. Looking Out
4. Before It Breaks
5. I Will
6. Shadow On The Wall
9. The Sound Of Silence
10. The Story
11. Pride And Joy
13. Forever Young