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Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Brandi Carlile, Seattle Symphony offer a stirring, lush delight

By Gene Stout
Special to The Seattle Times

Concert Review |

Brandi Carlile had barely spoken the words "I was just recently married" when fans erupted in cheers and applause Friday night at the first of three shows with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall.

Most of Carlile's fans had already heard the news of her marriage to Londoner Catherine Shepherd last September in Boston, but that didn't keep them from raising the roof at the modest announcement (at the end of the opening set). With same-sex marriage soon becoming legal in Washington state, Carlile's wedding was cause for celebration among her devoted followers.

When the hullabaloo settled down, the Northwest singer-songwriter and rising star dedicated a song to Shepherd — a solo acoustic version of the tender "You Belong to Me," the beloved 1950s pop classic recorded by Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Dean Martin, the Duprees and many others.

Carlile's latest series of concerts with the Seattle Symphony, concluding Sunday at Benaroya, follows performances in 2008 and again in 2010, when her hot-selling "Live at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony" was released.

Split into two sets, Friday's concert was an absolute delight, featuring songs from Carlile's new album, "Bear Creek," as well as earlier recordings. Standouts from the new album, recorded at the Woodinville studio of the same name, included "Hard Way Home" and the folksy "Keep Your Heart Young." The concert featured a stirring blend of alternative-country, folk, blues and rock.

Backing Carlile (whose career has been soaring since she landed on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "10 Artists to Watch" in 2005) and longtime musical partners Tim and Phil Hanseroth (on guitar and bass, respectively) were cellist Josh Neumann, mandolinist and fiddler Jeb Bows, and drummer Konrad Meissner.

The Maple Valley resident and her band performed a boisterous version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," dedicated to what Carlile called "the most punk-rock, country-western singer who ever lived."

The Seattle Symphony, led by guest conductor Jason Weinberger, added depth and breadth to exquisitely arranged songs featuring Carlile's powerfully expressive vocals. (The symphony portion began after a song was played on an antique phonograph, underscoring the hall's remarkable acoustics.)

Carlile affectionately introduced Weinberger, who had collaborated with her on other concerts, as a man who "speaks my language — rock-musician speech. He ... knows how to speak to people with tattoos."

Among the show's highlights was the Hanseroth brothers' stunning version of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence," with voices beautifully intertwined.

Carlile's powerful rendition of her signature song, "The Story," earned her a standing ovation.

She closed the concert with her moving interpretation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," featuring the symphony's lush string accompaniment.

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

Brandi Carlile

8 p.m. Sunday performance at Benaroya Hall is sold out.


COURTESY BIG HASSLE
Brandi Carlile's concert Friday, the first of three shows with the Seattle Symphony, featured songs from her new album, "Bear Creek," as well as earlier recordings.




JEREMY COWART
Brandi Carlile has two more shows this weekend with the Seattle Symphony.




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