As the song writing and lyrical substance of Brandy unravelled over the course of two albums, the strong influence of small town America surfaced along with the hopes, fears, characters and a good ole dose of emphatic reality. The link between Morton, 12 STORIES and the subsequent ascension of an exceptional songwriter has now been further strengthened by the experience of Brandy bringing her live presence to the UK in an extended tour format.
It was a honour that Birmingham’s Glee Club hosted the first night of Brandy’s inaugural UK tour and it evolved into the true country music follow up to her namesake Terri’s appearance on the same stage four years ago. The addition of Ben Glover for the supporting role sealed the deal of showcasing a top notch bill, with the Nashville-based Ulsterman returning to a venue where he opened for Mary Gauthier a couple of years back. Throw in Ben’s association with the much loved multi UK returnee Gretchen Peters and in the space of a few sentences a mini song writing hall of fame has sprung up.
|Photo credit: Andy D.|
Understandably 2016’s BIG DAY IN A SMALL TOWN edged 2013’s 12 STORIES eight to five in the set list composition, yet the strength and calibre of the choices were comparable. Stark differences in the production backdrop of both albums has prompted much debate, but that line of thought was rendered obsolete with Brandy stripping back each song to a bare equilibrium. The bold vocal style coupled with the contrasting guitar styles of Brandy and her lead companion Miles Aubrey was all that was needed to parade the majesty of each song.
|Photo credit: Andy D.|
How these songs would play out in full band mode seemed a distant thought during this show with perhaps just a slight vision of fiddle and steel illuminating proceedings. The biggest adjustment in the set was the latest album’s lead single ‘Girl Next Door’ being considerably eased down, yet vigorously flying the flag for lyrical brilliance in the line ‘some Virgin Mary metaphor’.
On four occasions Brandy ventured outside her two albums. Two were obviously for the loaned out smash hit singles – ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ and ‘Better Dig Two’. The solitary cover was reserved for one from George Strait’s back catalogue in ‘The Chair’, with the indication that a different cover will be reserved for the four dates on this tour. The final non-album song was one yet to acquire a recording status, exploring the age old vice of drinking and 100% Brandy Clark.
12 STORIES is, and will remain, a modern classic and a blueprint to how an independent release can shape the cultured song. It heralded a golden period of records springing out of the Slate Creek Record label alongside The Bros. Landreth and Angaleena Presley. Whatever Brandy Clark goes on to achieve in her career, it will always have the significance of the pivotal launching pad from industry writer to influential performer. This evening was all about completing the unbroken circle that inadvertently started in Morton five years ago and ended phase one in Birmingham UK. The future of Brandy Clark is one of exciting and unlimited potential securely based on the evidence that hoisted this show into the premium set of 2016 gigs.
Review of 12 Stories - Favourite album of 2013
Review of Ben Glover - The Emigrant