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Brandy Clark, ‘Stripes’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

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Slate Creek Records

Brandy Clark’s ‘Stripes’ is country music’s formal introduction to the woman behind many of the edgiest songs of the last two years. Those who like their country women to sound rooted in tradition and a little (OK, a lot) unpredictable will love this woman’s anthem.

There’s no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion / The only thing savin’ your life / Is that I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes,” Clark sings to close the chorus. It’s the sort of lyric that brings a standing ovation the first time an audience hears it. Her cold indifference is even more cruel than revenge. This man will have to live with not being worth it.

“I could fall in love with the prison guard / I could sell cigarettes in the prison yard / Don’t think hard time would be that hard on me,” this self-assured singer calls out in 4/4 time.

Some may object to the considered violence, but few can deny the strong songwriting. Clark is part of the team behind Miranda Lambert’s ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ and Kacey Musgraves‘ ‘Follow Your Arrow,’ as well as ‘Better Dig Two’ by the Band Perry. There’s violence and controversy on her resume already. She seems comfortable making others uncomfortable.

“Oh, and one shot / Ain’t worth a bad mug shot,” she sings during the bridge. The stack of female revenge songs is a mile deep, but Clark makes a compelling, original statement with her debut single. The easy, bass-driven swing that backs her adds to the nonchalance of her message, filling in gaps between the sharp details of her broken love story.

Key Lyrics: “There’s no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion / The only thing savin’ your life / Is that I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes”

Did You Know?: Clark and her ‘Stripes’ co-writers broke a law to get this song. The singer tells Spin she needed to find somewhere quiet to write, so she, Matt Jenkins and Shane McAnally went down the road to find a park. Instead, they hopped a locked fence and penned this track on someone’s back porch. No one was home, but it was a very anxious songwriting session.

Listen to Brandy Clark, ‘Stripes’

Next: Are These the Top Songs of 2014 (So Far)?

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