Brandy Clark’s “Your Life Is a Record” was released in March 2020, as the world was engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic. Clark was scheduled to play in Boston shortly after his release, but of course that date was canceled. Eighteen months later, she is on tour which brings her to Brighton Music Hall on Friday. “It was such a hard blow to release an album and then, boom, the world stops,” Clark said in a Zoom conversation from Zion National Park in Utah, where she was enjoying some leisure time. before a show the next night in Salt Lake. City. But there was a silver lining, she found. “It was great to go out and have fans who know these songs. They were able to live with this record longer than they would have if I had been out on tour in 2020. ”
The record has been characterized as a breakup album, and when you listen to songs like “I’ll Be the Sad Song”, “Apologies” and “Who Broke Whose Heart”, it’s not hard to see why. The singer-songwriter has experienced the breakup of a 15-year relationship, so she doesn’t disagree that at least some of her songs reflect that experience. But in his opinion, this is not the main meaning in which the tag “rupture” applies.
“Even more than breaking a personal relationship, I was the one who broke away from where I thought my music lived. And that was country radio.
She explains that when she released her last album, “Big Day in a Small Town” in 2016, it was a shameless commercial record; she went full blast with a push on country radio. But these efforts have had disappointing results. “He didn’t have all the love I wish he had.”
It was a big disappointment. She grew up listening to country radio, and that’s where she wanted her music to air. When that didn’t happen, “it was a tough pill to swallow, to find out that I wasn’t really adjusting to it.”
Awareness has left her at a crossroads. She wasn’t sure where she was fitting in, but she knew she wanted to keep making music. And the realization also brought a certain freedom, since it removed the constraints which accompany the pursuit of commercial success.
The break is evidenced by the totally different sonic character of “Your Life Is a Record” compared to its predecessor. “Big day in a small town” has been easily described as a country record; his new sound has a more open, almost classic pop sound.
Clark agrees with this assessment: “The two records couldn’t be more different. It’s crazy to think that they were made with the same producer, the same artist and a lot of the same songwriters.
This is not where Clark intended to end, however. When she started making the record, her goal was to make an all-acoustic album, and she and her producer, Jay Joyce, started following the songs with that in mind. But as they worked, Joyce was motivated to ask a question, “What can we do to make this project different from all the other acoustic singer-songwriter records?” Response from Clark: “Well, I like the strings, I still have them.” Joyce hesitated at first; then he responded with the idea of Memphis-style strings and horns. He checked out a few examples – “Dusty in Memphis” and “I Am Shelby Lynne” – and suggested that with Clark’s vocals and the group of songs they had, that kind of treatment would work just fine.
Once they decided to go in that direction, they were all in it. The results – songs crossed by strings and brass, the vintage pop sound of “Who Broke Whose Heart”, “Can We Be Strangers”, the title song with its Bacharachian trumpet touch – all combine to give the album its very different sound. (Clark even instigated pop icon Randy Newman to duet with her on the Newman song “Bigger Boat.”) Granted, “Your Life Is a Record” is not devoid of country, but even these songs are pop. -inflected, as attested by “Love Is a Fire” and the magnificent “Who You Thought I Was” channeled by Don Williams.
Clark thinks his next album will be similar to this one, at least in terms of sound. “I’m sure it will evolve like everything else, but it’s definitely a door that opened up something different for me that I really love.” And while she still sees herself as a singer-songwriter who leans in the roots / American / country sense, she notes that the term “singer-songwriter” is very broad. “I’m looking to widen it as I continue.”
Having given up on the idea that her music has to live on country radio, she feels like the sky is the limit. “I guess ‘open’ is the best word, to whatever is, to anything that needs to be creative, to make it as great as possible.”
At Brighton Music Hall, November 12 at 7 p.m. $ 25. www.livenation.com
Stuart Munro can be contacted at [email protected]