Personnel: Brandi Carlile (vocals, guitar, banjo, piano); Phil Hanseroth (vocals, whistling, guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, upright bass, percussion); Tim Hanseroth (vocals, guitar, electric guitar, drums, percussion); Elton John (vocals, piano); Amy Ray (vocals); Gibb Droll (slide guitar, dobro); Benmont Tench (piano, organ); Jacob Hoffman (piano); Jesse Carmichael (Mellotron); Jason Lader (synthesizer); Victor Indrizzo, Chad Smith (drums, percussion); Lenny Castro (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Bill Mims ; Neal Avron; Ryan Hewitt; Jason Lader.
Recording information: Jupiter Studios, Seattle, WA; Ocean Way Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Sunset Sound Studio, Los Angeles, CA; The Palms Studios, Las Vegas, NV.
Photographer: Jeremy Cowart.
If there was any flaw with Brandi Carlile's second album, THE STORY, it's that it was perhaps a touch too austere, painted in amber tones by producer T Bone Burnett. Its 2009 sequel, GIVE UP THE GHOST, opens up and breathes, perhaps partially due to swapping T Bone for Rick Rubin, who retains the spooky, serious vibe but makes things a little less chilly. This isn't sealed off; there is room for guests here, including such L.A. linchpins as Benmont Tench and Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith, but also Elton John and his arranger, Paul Buckmaster. Tellingly, their presence is felt more than heard, as they never remove the spotlight from Carlile, who remains a singularly powerful singer/songwriter. When the setting is spartan, her voice is haunting and gripping, wrenching out operatic emotions, but GIVE UP THE GHOST trumps THE STORY because Carlile allows herself to lighten up too, to rock again on "Dreams" and jump into the rollicking "Caroline," which does indeed recall the barrelhouse jaunt of HONKY CHATEAU. Carlile still prefers sobriety to levity but it never feels affected; it's music that gets under your skin and cuts to the bone.
Entertainment Weekly (p.59) - "[S]he commands the spotlight with ease throughout, thanks in part to her distinctive throaty falsetto..." -- Grade: B+
Billboard (p.32) - "[T]he uptempo track 'Caroline' soars merrily....GIVE UP THE GHOST is another rich offering from this distinctive female talent."
Paste (magazine) (p.46) - "The production is thick but elegant, applied with full knowledge that the songs could exist beautifully in a spare acoustic-strummed daze, but that they deserve more than that."