If you’re a country fan, you’ve likely been singing along to the songs of Brandy Clark even without knowing who she is. An established Nashville songwriter, she’s penned tunes for everyone from Reba to Keith Urban to Sheryl Crow. That “Better Dig Two” number by The Band Perry? Yep, she co-wrote that. And Miranda’s hit “Mama’s Broken Heart?” She’s got writing credits on that one, too—not to mention a CMA nomination for Song of the Year.
With these songs and others, Clark has already proven her abilities as a masterful storyteller—so it makes sense that her first official venture into the spotlight as an artist would be an album simply titled 12 Stories.
Brandy Clark’s vocal style is understated, in different ways reminiscent of Anne Murray or Holly Dunn. Musically, she stays very much in the traditional country vein, complete with steel guitar and the occasional retro rockabilly riff—so between these two qualities, Clark is probably not “loud” enough to compete on today’s modern country charts. But this understated style serves to shine the light on what is by far Clark’s greatest strength: her songwriting.
True to its title, this record tells twelve stories—and by stories, we don’t mean fairy tales. Instead, these are often heart-wrenching stories, tales of various aspects of the human condition. From the lovelorn woman about to commit adultery (“What’ll Keep Me Out of Heaven”) to the woman on the other side of adultery seriously considering prison time (“Stripes”); from the estranged lover pondering his scotch on the rocks (“In Some Corner”) to the housewife smoking pot in the kitchen to cope (“Get High”), Brandy Clark tells the stories of the sometimes-darker side of life, not flinching from the truth but yet presenting it in a way that the listener can both relate to and accept. It’s songwriting at its finest, and in the quieter moments, it’s captivating.
Only time will tell whether Clark’s unassuming performance style will catch on with a wider audience, but if there’s anything that will get her there, it’s the songs themselves. Brandy Clark already has the respect of the Nashville community with her talents, and as an artist, she definitely deserves to be heard.