Brandy Clark has many times shown that she’s one heck of a songwriter. Recently, her writing talents have been heard on respectable cuts such as Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” and The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” while her name appears all over the co-writer credits on Kacey Musgraves’ excellent Mercury Records debut Same Trailer Different Park. Now we get to hear the woman get behind the mic herself with her recently released Brandy Clark EP and her debut single and video “Stripes” – a brash up-tempo number that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Miranda Lambert album.
The song begins with a bang, opening line “You were lying in there with nothin’ on but a goofy little grin and a platinum blonde” reeling the listener in quickly. Next thing we know, the narrator is cocking a pistol, and we’re beginning to wonder if we’re in for a murder ballad.
But she stops short of doing the deed – not in a display of mercy or conscience, but because our fashion-conscious narrator bristles at the thought of having to don a prison uniform, with Clark singing “I hate stripes and orange ain’t my color, and if I squeeze that trigger tonight I’ll be wearin’ one or the other.” It’s a clever and original, not to mention humorous, twist on a tried-and-true country music theme as Clark entertainingly captures the moment of catching one’s partner in the act.
Fortunately, “Stripes” doesn’t go so far as to fall into novelty territory, thanks in part to Clark’s fierce, simmering vocal rendering. The fresh, engaging David Brainard-helmed production is a delight, with a jaunty drumbeat and honky-tonk piano lending added grit and punch to the song’s tale.
As the first radio bid from an exceptionally talented singer-songwriter, “Stripes” does not disappoint. It’s an ambitious, energetic debut single that makes the prospect of a full-length Brandy Clark album (to be released later this year) even more enticing.