"Keep Your Heart Young" is emblematic of Brandi Carlile's ample rustic charms. Its melody is the carrot on a stick, luring you with sepia-colored banjo and bittersweet mandolin ring. Once inside, you're swathed in the Washington state native's powerful country-soul vocals, which is a lot like being wedged into an emotional roller coaster between Loretta Lynn and Eilen Jewell. Though Carlile clearly honors the past, she's not beholden to it; these are songs, not history books.
Indeed, for all her talent as a singer and songwriter, it's often her narrative that shines brightest. On the aforementioned track from her fourth album, Bear Creek, Carlile recalls the wheat penny her grandfather gave her and the Tic Tac box that was her imaginary CB radio. She urges that we not trade those youthful fancies for "a ball on the end of a chain/And don't go spending Grandpa's pennies buying into the game." The entire album—arguably her finest and most assured—is consumed with time's passage and memory, not surprising since Carlile turned 30 last year. Like her music, Carlile's literary skill digs deeper than mere nostalgia. Andy Hull opens the $40–$55 show at 8 p.m. —Chris Parker