With just four days notice, Brandy Clark brightened up what is generally a dismal month for her army of loyal fans with the release of the single “Who You Thought I Was” last Friday, January 10th.
What heightened the excitement is that the song is the first taste of what to expect from her highly anticipated forthcoming studio album “Your Life Is A Record” which is due for release on Warner Records on 6th March. Brandy has worked once again with in demand producer Jay Joyce, with whom she collaborated on her last album “Big Day In A Small Town” and which spawned two of her six Grammy nomination to date. But this time round they have approached things differently, initially recording all the tracks acoustically before adding a few electric instruments. In addition the Memphis Stings and Horns feature throughout the album, originally something that was being considered for just three of the tracks.
Brandy has been performing several of the album’s songs live in the past few months, including at Nashville’s CMA Fest last September and in London a month later during Country Music Week, and this single is among those she has been showcasing. She has also been telling audiences about the inspiration behind this write… while attending the Americana Awards a couple of years ago she witnessed John Prine get a long-lasting standing ovation as he took to the stage, and when it eventually died down he said words to the effect of “Hello, my name is John Prine but I’d like to go back to being who you thought I was“. Brandy’s songwriting radar was alerted, and she immediately typed that phrase down in her phone for future use!
The track was co-written by Brandy, her long-time friend and collaborator Jessie Jo Dillon, and Jonathan Singleton, the first song these two have written together that has made its way onto a record. They take the phrase Brandy jotted down that evening and use it in relation to a failed relationship, the end of which has bought into sharp perspective what is important in life going forwards. The tone is apologetic and regretful, but also there’s a determination that the experience will ensure she is a better person in the future. Brandy sings about having big, crazy dreams in the past but now such ambitions have taken a back seat, she is looking inwards and simply wants to be someone worthy of the love her ex bestowed on her. “I wanna be honest, now I wanna to be better, I wanna to be the me I should have been when we were together… I wanna be who you thought I was” she reflects in the chorus. Once again Brandy has tackled a very relatable subject it appears, something she has the knack of doing so incredibly well.
Production-wise, the fast paced, guitar led track (and what beautiful playing!) has a beat that immediately brought to my mind a cowboy riding across the desert, the backdrop of the accompanying video tying in perfectly with my initial thoughts! Then there’s the addition of the aforementioned strings which are just stunning, the haunting and sweeping cello in particular, alongside some very subtle background instrumentation including occasional punctuation by the Memphis brass section.
I’m sure that like me there are many of you reading this who can’t wait to hear what else Brandy brings to the table on this album, which she describes as her most personal body of work to date, saying that it is “about endings and beginnings. You know, sometimes you have to have those beautiful endings to have those beautiful beginnings. I hope you find yourselves in me finding myself“.
“Your Life Is Record” is available to pre-order immediately here https://brandyclark.lnk.to/YourLifeIsARecord and Brandy has just announced a string of Spring dates Stateside… the “Who You Thought I Was Tour”, which i know a lot of us are hoping makes its way to Europe later this year!
Your Life Is A Record Track Listing
1. I’ll Be The Sad Song
2. Long Walk
3. Love Is A Fire
5.Who You Thought I Was
7. Bigger Boat
8. Bad Car
9. Who Broke Whose Heart?
10.Can We Be Strangers?
11. The Past Is The Past
Article written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)