Could this be Brandy Clark’s year?
The Morton-raised singer-songwriter is no stranger to the Grammy Awards, previously racking up 10 nominations over her career as an artist and behind-the-scenes country songwriter. While Clark, whose music straddles the country/Americana fence, is yet to come home with any hardware, she’ll have a good shot at the 66th annual Grammy Awards ceremony Feb. 4 in Los Angeles.
This year’s nominees were revealed Friday, with Clark leading the field of Washington artists, her six nods matching pop stars like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. R&B star SZA leads all artists with nine nominations. (Check out the complete list here.)
Five of Clark’s six nominations stem from her Brandi Carlile-produced album, a partnership consecrated during a shrimping excursion to Whidbey Island. Released in May, the self-titled collection, which Carlile pitched to Clark as her “return to the Northwest,” is up for best Americana album of the year with the lead single “Buried” vying for best country song and best country solo performance.
In an interview earlier this year, Clark pointed to the song is an example of how, as a producer, Carlile challenged her to make sometimes uncomfortable lyrical changes.
“The song ‘Buried,’ that was originally called ‘If You Don’t Love Me Anymore,’” Clark explained. “Brandi came in and was like, ‘This song, that’s like the perfect song, but you’re like three lines away. If you would change this line and this line and this line it would be perfect.’ I thought, ‘Well, if it’s the perfect song, how come it needs changes?!’”
Elsewhere from the album, Clark and Carlile’s stirring duet “Dear Insecurity” is nominated for best Americana performance and best American roots song. While this year’s Grammys catches Carlile in between album cycles, she’s also up for best pop duo/group performance for lending vocals to Miley Cyrus’ folkified “Thousand Miles.”
A testament to Clark’s songwriting range, she is also in the running for best musical theater album for her work on “Shucked,” co-written with longtime collaborator Shane McAnally, who is up for songwriter of the year. (Another one of Clark’s songwriting buds, Jessie Jo Dillon, who co-wrote several songs on Clark’s album, is also in the songwriter of the year race.)
Coincidentally, Friday marks one year since Clark, who splits her time between Nashville and Malibu these days, hit the studio to work on the “life-changing” album. Clark noted the anniversary of sorts in an Instagram video posted Thursday to mark the end of her latest tour. “Between that record and ‘Shucked,’ it’s been probably the best year of my adult life,” Clark said.
In an Instagram post commenting on her two nominations, with Cyrus and the performance category with Clark, and congratulating her friends, Carlile wrote:
“I am so thrilled to see all the love and acknowledgment for Brandy Clark’s beautiful album. She did something incredibly brave and I am so proud that she’s getting the recognition she so clearly deserves. It says so much about how high the stakes are for a person, when they choose to name their album after themselves decades into a career. With great risk comes great reward. It’s been an emotional day!”
Clark’s not the only Grammys regular with Washington ties among this year’s nominees. Foo Fighters earned nods for best rock album (“But Here We Are”), best rock song and best rock performance (“Rescued”). “But Here We Are” is the Foos’ first album since the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins and stands as arguably their finest in years, coursing with a sense of urgency and vintage Dave Grohl anthems.
Proud Oklahoman and onetime Washingtonian Zach Bryan picked up three nods for his sprawling self-titled album (best country album) and his Kacey Musgraves duet “I Remember Everything” (best country song and best country duo/group performance). The Navy vet’s career took off while he was stationed in Washington and exploded onto the mainstream radar once he was honorably discharged and hit the road, immediately playing to large crowds.
Bryan, who’s set to embark on a stadium tour next year, will return next year to the region where he wrote some of his first big tunes with two Tacoma Dome dates Nov. 22-23, 2024.
After picking up their first Grammy nominations before even releasing their debut album, the Seattle-heavy vocal group säje is nominated for best arrangement, instruments and vocals with “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” featuring Grammy favorite Jacob Collier. The quartet features Seattle-reared singers Sara Gazarek and Amanda Taylor, Cornish College of the Arts professor Johnaye Kendrick and L.A.-based Erin Bentlage.
Elsewhere, jazz fusion guitar great John McLaughlin’s reformed Shakti band — featuring Bellevue violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan — had “This Moment,” its first album in 46 years, score a best global music album nod.
In other hometown Grammy connections, Sammamish artist SYML scored a credit on Lana Del Rey’s “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” nominated for album of the year and best alternative music album. Del Rey apparently became an SYML fan after hearing the rangy singer-songwriter’s instrumental song “I Wanted to Leave.” She was so hooked on the arresting piano track she recorded vocals to it and wanted to include it on her new album.
Beyond the Del Rey link, SYML — who’s birth name is Brian Fennell — has had a big year, releasing a superb folk-rockin’ album of his own, titled “The Day My Father Died.” SYML plays a sold-out homecoming show at the Neptune Theatre on Friday, Nov. 17.
Among some of the behind-the-scenes nominees, Seattle-born producer/engineer and four-time Grammy winner Jesse Lewis earned two nominations for best engineered album, classical for his work on Shara Nova and A Far Cry’s “The Blue Hour” and “Sanlikol: A Gentleman of Istanbul” recorded by Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, George Lernis and A Far Cry.
Again, despite being somewhat of a between year for local Grammys fixture Brandi Carlile as a solo artist, Carlile’s hero-pal Joni Mitchell picked up a best folk album nomination for “Joni Mitchell: Live at Newport” — the live album of Mitchell’s Carlile-assisted comeback concert at the Newport Folk Festival. Another Carlile-adjacent nod, the “Barbie the Album” soundtrack, yielded a host of nominations, including best compilation soundtrack for visual media. The deluxe edition features Carlile and wife Catherine’s cover of the Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine.”