12 Stories by Brandy Clark

There may be too few women on country radio right now, but it sure isn’t due to a shortage of talent. Case in point: Brandy Clark’s 12 Stories, a staggeringly great collection of original tunes that paint vivid, honest portraits of real life, from a uniquely feminine perspective.

You’ve heard Brandy’s name as a songwriter of hits like Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” but she’s even more compelling as a solo country artist. Album opener “Pray to Jesus” is like a companion to Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ’Round”—a delicate reflection (with tack piano!) on the droves of unhappily married women hoping for change from above, or at least the lotto.

Domestic unrest is a recurring theme, whether it’s the fog of pot smoke the protagonist in “Get High” needs to make it through a day, the insecurity she feels around a female rival in “Hold My Hand” or the conflicting pleasure and torment she gets out of an affair in “What’ll Keep Me Out of Heaven.”

Brandy spins righteous anger into laughs in the raucous, clever “Stripes,” saying she can’t kill her cheating lover because she won’t wear orange or stripes.

And perhaps the finest of all is “Take a Pill,” a mournful, wearily resigned examination of the way we overmedicate to ease emotional pain, penned with clear vision and laser precision.

While the men are stuck in the backwoods, Brandy is busy digging through the human condition.

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