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Brandy Clark

Your Life is a Record – 2020 (Warner)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Brandy Clark

Whenever Brandy Clark's "Your Life is a Record" is described as the work of a smart, female singer/songwriter - an inevitable characterization - you may immediately picture 11 sophisticated pop songs. And make no mistake about it; this music is sophisticated - sophisticated enough, in fact, to attract pop songwriter extraordinaire Randy Newman for a duet on "Bigger Boat." Surprisingly, though, much of the music contained within is also more organic than one might have expected from an artist with Clark's innate smarts. Clark's just not too cool to remain country.

With all that said, though, Clark gets a little lowbrow - at least lyrically - by dropping an F-bomb into the lyric for "Who Broke Whose Heart." Even so, that track is built upon a wisely layered and brass horn-accented arrangement. It's followed by another one featuring horns, the sweet soul of "Can We Be Strangers," which completely turns the whole strangers-to-lovers relationship trajectory on its head. "Who Broke Whose Heart" is, obviously, a put-down song. So too is, "Long Walk." Nevertheless, Clark always sounds so sweet, even when she's being pointedly uncomplimentary. "Long Walk" is also one of the album's country-ist songs, which particularly features some fine guitar picking.

Clark walks the fine line of being whip-smart (lyrically), while still remaining especially gentle. She - as a kind of tomato in the country radio salad - may sometimes be an outsider looking in on the airplay party, but she apparently doesn't feel the need to raise her voice about it. Just take a listen to the especially pretty "Love is a Fire," to hear how well she delivers a straight-ahead love song. Yep, she has a big heart to go with that extra-large brain.

The album's title may well even win over music fans that don't particularly appreciate country music. For all true music fans, life is a record. Although some lucky souls can separate out music from the other parts of their lives, diehards just can't live without a constant soundtrack accenting every dialogue and action. Clark's album is sure to be one of those albums many of us will be 'living to' for a long time to come.