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© Paul A. Hebert/Press Line Photos/Corbis
A lot of people wouldn't be caught dead admitting to listening to, much less liking, their parents' music. But fast-rising country star Brandy Clark isn't like a lot of people. Growing up in the logging town of Morton, Washington (population: 900), she reveled in her folks' vinyl record collection; in fact, many of the discs that she was first exposed to by her parents (and grandparents) remain favorites to this day.
“I know the tendency with kids is to rebel and find your own music, but I was never that way," Clark says. "My parents handed down so much good music to me, and because my grandparents lived right next door, I was hearing what they had as well. I think I was really lucky to absorb all those influences, and they shaped my ears in some important ways."
Clark's witty and keenly observational lyrics helped to make her 2013 debut, 12 Stories, a head-turner. Before that, she scored a fistful of songwriting credits on hits by The Band Perry and Miranda Lambert, among others. According to Clark, her early influences planted the seeds of how she approaches her own songwriting.
“A lot of the greats are exceptional storytellers, as well as being awesome singers and musicians," she says. "That's something that's always stayed with me: 'How do I convey what I'm feeling with words and sounds? How do I tell a story that'll affect you?' There's a real power to an album of songs that casts a spell on you in that way. A great album isn't background music."
On the following pages, Clark talks about her picks for 10 essential country albums. "These aren't things with one or two amazing cuts and the rest is just OK. With each one of these records, I can listen to the whole thing from beginning to end and always come away inspired and enriched."