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ELLN March Music Quick Pick

Each month, I highlight an album as part of the ACC’s Employment and Labor Law Network’s outreach and engagement, and just to give you something non-legal related to enjoy every month.  I hope you join us on our Forums and at today’s monthly teleconference where we will discuss WARN Act Implications of Group Separations and Corporate Transactions. If you’re an in-house counsel and not part of the ACC or the ELLN, you can join ACC and ELLN today and see what we’re all about!  I hope to (virtually) see you soon.

ELLN March Music Quick Pick

Former ELLN Chair Doug Hass has long been a music buff (he founded country music site Roughstock.com in 1993) and had plenty of windshield time for work over the years. That’s given him lots of time to indulge and explore his music interests! To help entertain you on your commutes or at the gym, office, home, or on the go, Doug is offering another year-long series of picks that will showcase some of the best albums you may have never heard, or that deserve another listen. We hope that each monthly choice piques your interest in these albums and artists. These may be titles that you have never heard of, but our hope is that your interest will be piqued and your musical world enriched!

Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You (2018)Yola – Walk Through Fire (2019)
  Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora  Amazon Music – Apple Music – Spotify — Pandora

I am pretty sure that I first heard Seattle-born Brandi Carlile when Anthony Bourdain picked up the title track of her breakthrough 2007 album, The Story, for the promos of his final season of No Reservations on the Travel Channel (before his move to CNN with Parts Unknown).  Joy of discovery is a big part of what made Anthony Bourdain’s series so compelling, and music played a big part in most episodes.  Carlile’s voice stood out on that song and throughout that more rock-leaning release (think Melissa Etheridge or the Indigo Girls), and it led to some great discoveries.  I tell you this story so I can tell you another one later. When it came time to make a Carlile pick for this series, though, I had to fast-forward to 2018’s Americana hit, the Grammy-award winning By the Way, I Forgive You.  It gives you the best sense of her fantastic songwriting and unique voice that is unlike any other in the big tent of country music today.

If you have to start with one song, it should be “The Mother.”  You can watch the moving official video, but I recommend the live version from Austin City Limits where Carlile’s oldest daughter, Evangeline, comes out to get a kiss, and Carlile explains some of her journey through motherhood and how she came to write the song about her daughter (my favorite line, talking about giving birth to her second daughter: “I have a lot of girls in my family, because I also have a wife.”)  The lyrics to The Mother are the perfect example of country music storytelling: “The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep / She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep,” summing it up as “All my rowdy friends are out accomplishing their dreams / But I am the mother of Evangeline.”  Although the simple, acoustic “The Mother” is my favorite, you can find a little bit of everything here from arena country rock to songs that evoke Buffalo Springfield like “Fulton County Jane Doe.” I also think you’ll like “Harder to Forgive” and the if-Adele-was-a-folk-artist “Party of One.”

Undoubtedly, you have noticed that I have two picks this month, not one.  That’s the story I wanted to tell you.  Recently, I have thought quite a bit about why I started writing about country music almost 30 years ago and why I started (and continue) this series for ELLN: the joy of discovery.  When Brandi Carlile (who I had “discovered” by watching Anthony Bourdain’s show) joined a group called “The Highwomen,” I gave their 2018 debut album a listen because of Carlile. The group’s first track, a re-write of The Highwayman by Jimmy Webb, featured a guest voice that soared out above the rest. I had to look her up: Yola, a singer-songwriter from Bristol, England.  In early 2019, when Yola released her own full-length debut album, Walk Through Fire, I quickly queued it up.  The title track is the standout here, but you will hear an incredible range of country soul on this record, with a touch of early ‘70s Britpop, a little smattering of Amy Winehouse, and some classic Motown- and Martha Reeves-style soul. “Faraway Look” and “Shady Grove” are excellent, too, and you’ll drool over her covers of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Up All Night (Work All Day).”

When I say I hope that the monthly choices pique your interest, it is my hope that you will try out some of these discoveries or rediscoveries.  You never know where that discovery will lead you.  If I hadn’t found Brandi Carlile thanks to Anthony Bourdain, I probably would never have picked up The Highwomen and stumbled on Yola. Enjoy!

Can’t get enough? Further Listening:

Brandi Carlile, The Firewatcher’s Daughter (2015) (via Spotify)
Yola, Orphan Offering (2016) (via Amazon)

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