“By the Way I Forgive You”: Brandi Carlile album review

: Andrew Wessel, Herald Contributor

Have you ever had a moment where you wanted to take a step back from all the loud, popular genres that you would normally listen to and just want to listen to a nice, wholesome, calm record? If so, then this is the album for you.  

Brandi Carlile released her new record, “By the Way, I Forgive You,” on Friday, Feb.16. Brandi is an American folk singer/songwriter with a smooth voice that has a warm timbre (the perceived sound quality of a musical note) with a hint of vibrato that makes her very easy and enjoyable to listen to.

The album holds a lot of stories and meaning behind the lyrics, as folk songs do. Overall, the album has a relaxed feel that sounds like it came straight from the 70s. A song that embodies this sound is “The Joke,” the second track on the record. The soothing string section gives the feeling of the song being from the era of Art Rock, where Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles reigned supreme. When the organ and backing vocals come in, the song feels as if it could have been written by Pink Floyd. Also, the song progressively gets louder in a crescendo of sound that eventually explodes and fizzles out, as if it were a firework.

Another ear-catching song on the album was “The Mother.”  In this song, Brandi reminisces over the life of her child, Evangeline.  

“She’s fair and she’s quiet, Lord, she doesn’t look like me, she made me love the morning, she’s a holiday at sea…” 

Brandi talks about her daughter and the joy that she has brought into her life.  She continues later in the song:

“You’re nothing short of magical and beautiful to me.”  


This song is a perfect representation of a mother’s love for her child.  It has nothing but positive vibes; therefore, if you’re having a bad day and need a little pick-me-up, this will fill your heart with warmth and joy.


In the song “Sugartooth,” Brandi tells the story of a young man with a sweet tooth. However, this man’s “sweet tooth” is really a euphemism for his drug addiction. The lyrics follow his lonely, broken life to the point where he cannot find the will to live. Brandi sings that “They found him lying on his bed, with a gun in his hand and a quiet head, his broken heart, now, is finally gone.”  


She continues in the next verse that he was cremated and his ashes were scattered at a “place called Jesus Rock.” This story may be on the depressing and more morbid side, but it holds the original sound and feel of an American folk song, making it intriguing for any listener.


As a whole, “By The Way, I Forgive You” is a great modern folk record, which I would recommend to anyone looking to broaden their music taste.