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11x Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and musician Brandy Clark’s new song, “Northwest,” is out now. Listen/share HERE.
Of the song, Clark shares, “Being born and raised in western Washington, it was all I knew until I moved to Nashville in my early 20s. It was so right in front of me that I didn’t even see or feel just how awesome it all was. The first time I came home for a visit, I realized just how tall the trees were and how majestic the mountains in my childhood backyard would always be. This song is an homage to that beautiful place and time I grew up in.”
“Northwest” is the third song unveiled from Clark’s highly-anticipated new self-titled album, which was produced by 9x Grammy-winner Brandi Carlile and was released May 19, 2023 on Warner Records. Ahead of the release, Clark recently unveiled album tracks “She Smoked In The House” and “Buried,” of which Billboard praises, “Clark continues to convey her inexorable talents as both a song-crafter and vocal interpreter,” while Music Row declares, “a stunning ballad of ache and loss by one of our greatest living country songwriters.”
The release adds to yet another landmark year for Clark, who is nominated for Best Original Score at the 76th Annual Tony Awards for Shucked, the new musical comedy she composed alongside longtime collaborator, Shane McAnally. Shucked is nominated for nine awards overall at the 2023 ceremony including Best New Musical.
Recorded at the famed Shangri-La studio in Malibu, CA, the new album features the most raw and intimate recordings of Clark’s decade-long career, as she showcases her versatility across eleven songs that span the emotional spectrum. In addition to Clark and Carlile, the album also includes special guests Derek Trucks and Lucius as well as Matt Chamberlain on drums, Sebastian Steinberg on bass, Dave Palmer on piano, Jedd Hughes on guitar, Kyleen King on viola, Josh Neumann on cello, Sista Strings (aka Monique and Chauntee Ross) on cello and violin, Steve Fishell on pedal steel and Jay Carlile on background vocals and harmonica.
Reflecting on the project, Clark shares, “This album is a return home to me in many ways. Musically it’s the rawest I’ve been since 12 Stories and maybe even rawer. When Brandi and I sat down and talked about working together, one thing that really intrigued me was her saying ‘I see it as your return to the northwest.’ (Since the two of us are both from Washington state). That comment inspired so much for me. It took me back to where and how I grew up. ‘Northwest’ and ‘She Smoked In The House’ were both a result of that early conversation. Working with another recording artist on this project was such a gift that I didn’t even know I needed and changed the way I want to write songs and make records moving forward. My hope is that anyone who hears this album will feel the heart that I put into every note of it.”
Carlile adds, “Brandy is one of the greatest songwriters I’ve ever known. And I feel like I now know exactly who Brandy Clark is through the portal of this singular brilliantly written album. When I heard the songs for this album, they took me back to the first time I heard Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. I was thinking about Tom Petty, The Pretenders, Kim Richey, Sheryl Crow, Shelby Lynne and the soul of 90s Americana before it had a name. Brandy’s voice is like a friend you’ve had your whole life the second you hear it. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. This is her moment. This is the one. Sometimes an artist only gets one shot at an album like this in their life. This is the time Brandy has chosen to reveal herself to the world as an artist and a woman and I was blessed beyond measure to be the person she trusted to support and facilitate that swan dive.”
Clark is one of her generation’s most respected songwriters and musicians. In addition to writing songs like “A Beautiful Noise,” the GRAMMY-nominated duet performed by Brandi Carlile and Alicia Keys, and Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow,” Clark has released three acclaimed albums of her own including 2020’s Your Life is A Record. The album landed on best-of-the-year lists at Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Variety and more and led NPR Music to call her, “a storyteller of the highest caliber,” The New Yorker to declare, “No one is writing better country songs than Brandy Clark is” and Slate to proclaim, “one of the greatest living short-story-song writers in country (which really means in any genre).”
Milwaukee bred sisters, Monique and Chauntee Ross, spent their entire music education not quite fitting any particular mold. Raised by two ministers, enrolled in conservatory at young ages, Monique and Chauntee embraced what made them different. Their art is meant to reflect their varying musical interests in a way that draws the listener in. Music becomes a journey and SistaStrings invites you to find your path.
Collaboration has been at the forefront of SistaStrings’ art. The sisters grew up playing their instruments in the church which is where their love of harmonies and improvisation was cultivated. Their entire childhood was immersed in music and making music with their peers in many different settings. It wasn’t until 2014 when both Monique and Chauntee moved back to their hometown, Milwaukee, WI when they began this project. They began exploring their sound as SistaStrings and collaborating with a variety of Milwaukee artists and found a strong creative community. In 2019 they released their first EP, LIFT and began touring.
During their “discovery phase”, SistaStrings met and began to collaborate with fellow Milwaukeean Peter Mulvey. They’ve recorded two albums together, one of which is being released in 2022. 2021 opened a new chapter for the duo as they relocated to Nashville. They quickly found a sisterhood with Allison Russell and toured with her in 2022. Monique and Chauntee began working with Brandi Carlile around the same time. They can be found touring with BCB in 2023. It’s no coincidence that collaboration is a strong point for the sisters. They believe that music and the arts reflect life and use their music to create opportunity for others and promote love and acceptance.