Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Julian Dreyer at Echo Mountain, Asheville, North Carolina
Man, you know what, people go through some crazy shit to get to where they are and when they get there, they're sometimes greeted by some more of the same. They go through the normal shit too, to get to where they are. Most of the time, that's worse than the crazy shit because, like the common cold, there's no cure for it. It's no abnormality. It's just a strain, a virus that runs its course, messes you up significantly and leaves you nothing like you were when it first kicked up. That's the difference between the common cold and the blasts that regular old life wallops you with.
The crazy shit and the normal are the lines that Brandi Carlile enjoys tinkering with. Well, enjoy might not be the right word, but the songwriter from the great state of Washington, can't help herself. She enjoys what her personal quota brings her when it comes to the strange fates that happen to find her. She squares up, gets into a good stance and just battles through the troubles and the turbulence and once it's ripped through the area, she sits down to write about how it all felt and how it's probably always going to make her feel for the rest of her life - if she's either lucky or unlucky. She thinks about luck a bit (mostly when it comes to coins, when it comes to chance, when it comes to sticking around to fight another day or year or two) on the record and she considers how it affects someone who loses their way. She sings, "When you get lost/You'll toss ever lucky coin you'll ever trust/And you'll hide from your God/Like he ever turns his back on us/Then you'll fall all the way to the bottom/And land on your own knife/But you'll learn who you are/Even if it doesn't take your life," on "That Wasn't Me." It deals with all of the coping mechanisms that we have at our disposal - lying, misbehaving, avoidance - it wonders where all of that gets us. There's still the authentic person somewhere, that can't ever truly get lost. It just gets buried sometimes and has to dig itself out.
Carlile, on this excellent record, is in a state of being revealing and regretful, even while there's plenty of hope still that there will be enough time still to iron everything out that needs ironing out. Regrets can last forever or they can be fixed. They can be easy to do away with and the longer you live - as she sings about on "100" - the more chances you're going to get. She sings, "I always make my wishes for the same thing every time/If I live to be one hundred if I ever get it right/And I prayed to God last night/Just before I went to bed/But even though I can't remember a single word he said/If I live to be one hundred/If I get it through my head/I always think about you/And I have to close my eyes/If I live to be one hundred will I ever cross your mind?" Sometimes, the longer you live, the more regrets you gather. It's a tricky road when you keep gaining in years, but "you can't take back what you have done." You just have to get over it. You just have to celebrate that next birthday, keep bringing the mail in and taking the garbage out. You've little choice. If you can do so happily and if you can find some love to pick you up, all is well and the regrets are negligible.