You wouldn’t guess from listening to “Before It Breaks” that Brandi Carlile used to sing backup vocals for an Elvis Presley impersonator when she was a teenager. Those with keen ears might hear the same emotional strain in Brandi’s voice as in The King’s most haunted ballads, or the kind of orchestral bombast that drove women to scream in the ’50s and fans worldwide to fall in love with Carlile album after album. Grab “Before It Breaks” for free, and judge for yourself.

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“Before It Breaks” opens with despondent piano chords and Brandi’s echoed, larger than life vocals. Ms. Carlile takes her song to its emotional breaking point with surging guitars and a chorus that increases in power with each iteration, a feat modern songwriters often achieve with extra Pro Tools sessions and blankets of effects. Those aren’t necessary with Brandi; they might even detract from her talent, one that blossomed from consistent self-pressure to keep her sound live, authentic, and earnest.

Catch Brandi perform live at this year’s Life Is Good Festival, September 24th-25th, in Canton, Massachusetts. For more information on the festival, its charity, and full lineup, check out our Spotlight on the event here.

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The Life Is Good Music Festival runs Sept. 24-25 in Canton, Massachusetts. Get tickets and see the full lineup.

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