Brandi Carlile will release her sixth album By The Way, I Forgive You, early next year and has just offered up a powerful performance of the LPs’ first single “The Joke.” What begins as a tender, gently rocking ode to boys with a “quiet voice and impeccable style” and disillusioned girls relegated to living in “your brother’s world for a while longer,” soon bursts forth with volcanic ferocity, much like “The Story,” Carlile’s breakout hit from a decade ago. Awash in a deeply affecting string arrangement by the iconic Paul Buckmaster (David Bowie, Elton John), one of the last projects he completed before his death just one week ago, the song’s dramatic production underscores its urgent, comforting message.
“There are so many people feeling misrepresented [today],” Carlile told NPR of the song’s wide-ranging message. “So many people feeling unloved. Boys feeling marginalized and forced into these kind of awkward shapes of masculinity that they do or don’t belong in… so many men and boys are trans or disabled or shy. Little girls who got so excited for the last election, and are dealing with the fallout. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.”
Ten years ago, Carlile released The Story, her sophomore LP produced by T Bone Burnett. With its memorable title cut, Carlile sealed her fate as the next big thing. But more than exposing her to an entirely new audience, the album gave the singer-songwriter an opportunity to tour extensively, expanding her own worldview.
“I got on the road and started seeing the rest of the world – the rest of the country – and I was influenced by injustice, poverty and a longing for feeling like I belonged somewhere again,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Then it changed right into my love life when I got married and had a child.”
By the Way, I Forgive You is available for pre-order and will be released February 16th on Dave Cobb’s Elektra Records imprint, Low Country Sound.