Brandy Clark - Cadogan Hall, London
The kind of show that Brandy Clark brought over to the UK is the kind of show that real music is made for. Like the best of the current crop of US country acts it’s all about the melody and the lyrics for the 40 year old. Playing at the 900 seater Cadogan Hall Clark and her sideman Miles Aubrey are physically dwarfed by the cavernous venue, but her wickedly amusing, entertaining, depressing, biting, and clever lyrics ring through loud and clear.
After taking a backseat in the singing part of being a singer songwriter, the Washington state native now has two hugely successful records under her belt. Having built a career writing for the likes of Miranda Lambert and The Band Perry - tonight she plays ‘Better Dig Two’ her song that they recorded - she finally released her debut, the excellent 12 Stories, in 2013. It’s a surprise it took her that long, not only does she have a bloody brilliant voice, but she’s got a stage presence to match - “We're short on time and I'm in heels” to explain the lack of an encore.
Going big on songs from this years Big Day In A Small Town the acoustic setting allows the quality of the lyrics to shine as brightly as her vocals. The title track of her second record sets the scene, capturing the minutiae of smalltown life succinctly and wittily. She builds on those insightful lyrics with ‘Daughter’ (“my favourite revenge song”), a harsh tale of a dubious love interest and the fate of his future offspring. And part of Clark’s brilliance is that she carries off the same trick live as on record, switching the bitchy and biting of songs like that, ‘Stripes’, and ‘Girl Next Door’ with the tear inducing ‘Since You’ve Gone To Heaven’, the heart wrenching ‘Three Kids, No Husband’, and the beautiful ‘Hold My Hand’. It’s a neat trick and stops her from becoming too clever-clever.
Clark is clever though and doesn’t shy away from it. She has things to say and says them. As her most recent single says: “If you want the girl next door / Then go next door” Cadogan Hall was sold out; no-one went next door.