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Carlile brings thoughtfulness

GRAMMY Museum, Los Angeles, July 12, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Brandi Carlile returned to the GRAMMY Museum for the third time, and it's easy to see why she's always invited back. The evening began with GRAMMY Executive Scott Goldman interviewing Carlile on a pair of stuffed chairs, which was followed directly by a brief set of live songs. The interview portion was informative, while Carlile's performance with the Hanseroth twins was transformative, as always.

Goldman did a good job of making Carlile feel at ease, as she talked about her latest album, "By the Way, I Forgive You." Carlile told Goldman that the forgiveness theme inspired the singer/songwriter to forgive a Baptist pastor that refused to baptize her as a youth because she's gay. However, Goldman neglected ask Carlile about the results of this encounter, so the audience was left wondering if this pastor ever accepted Carlile's forgiveness.

Much better, though, was their discussion of "The Joke," one of the new album's best songs. Carlile revealed how it was sonically inspired by Freddie Mercury and Queen -- more specifically, the song "We Are the Champions." Goldman also quizzed Carlile about her love of arranger Paul Buckmaster. Carlile discovered Buckmaster while writing a school report on Elton John. Goldman even joked with Carlile about the Buckmaster picture she had in her room as a teen, as most teens don't have pictures of string arrangers on their walls.

Next, flanked by Phil and Tim Hanseroth, Carlile performed a short set of songs acoustically, including "Every Time I Hear That Song" and "The Joke." It was a treat to hear Carlile's soaring vocal range in such an intimate setting. About only a few hundred people fit into the Clive Davis Theater, adjacent to the museum, so this was equivalent to a private living room show.

Whether being interviewed, or performing live, Carlile has a unique story to tell. Being a mother of two in a same-sex marriage makes Carlile a kind of modern day pioneer. But what sets Carlile apart from so many contemporary political activists, though, is the civility and thoughtfulness of her message. She may have widely differing views from the Baptist teen she once was, but she's not one to burn bridges or draw battle lines with opposing viewpoints. Carlile doesn't just sing and talk about forgiveness, she exemplifies it.