When Brandy Clark set out to make her new studio album, Your Life Is a Record, she and producer Jay Joyce put their heads together to come up with a fresh, uncharted direction for the new music. Though the process challenged both artist and producer, they were on the same page about what they wanted the music to sound like -- well, at least, most of the time.

"He said to me, 'How do we make this record different than any other singer-songwriter record?' And I said, 'Well, I love strings,' because I do, and he said, 'Ugh,'" Clark recalled, laughing, at an album preview event. "He said, 'It's so hard, because you have to have so many of them, and sometimes I just like using keyboard strings for that reason.'"

However, after Joyce mulled over it, he came back to Clark with an intriguing idea: "He said, 'I know I told you I wasn't really into strings, but I think the Memphis Strings & Horns might be great with you and these songs,'" the singer continues, adding that Joyce also said he wanted the string section to cut their parts of the record without him and Clark in the room. He wanted the musicians to follow their instincts instead of looking to the two of them for direction on how to play.

Recording that way was a gamble, and when he showed Clark the first three songs, Joyce told her to prepare herself for the very real possibility that she might not like what she heard. Then, he hit play.

"And I started crying immediately," Clark relates. "I think he thought maybe I was crying because I didn't like it. I was like, 'I think this is stunning. I think we should do a whole record like this.'"

That's exactly what they did. To learn more about Your Life Is a Record, read on!

The Title

The title of Clark's new album, Your Life Is a Record, comes from the first lyrics of the project's opening track, "I'll Be Your Sad Song." Clark says the title is also a metaphor for life's different phases, and that she chose it for its poignant simplicity.

"I'd love to take credit for that, but that brilliant idea was not mine," Clark says of naming Your Life Is a Record. "I was talking about the record with Jessie Jo Dillon, who's a co-writer and a friend of mine, and has several songs on the record. She was like, 'Hey, B, what if you called it Your Life Is a Record?' And I was like, 'I love that.'"

In fact, the title seemed so intuitive that Clark was worried it had already been the name of a record. "I searched it, because I thought, 'That has to have been a title, you know?" she adds with a laugh.

The Release Date

Your Life Is a Record will come out on March 6. The record is available for pre-order now.

The Record Label

Your Life Is a Record is due out via Warner Records. Clark's last project, 2016's Big Day in a Small Town, came out via Warner Bros. too; before that, her 2013 studio album 12 Stories was released on Slate Creek.

The Producer

For Your Life Is a Record, Clark returned to work with Jay Joyce, who also produced Big Day in a Small Town. Joyce is known for his proficiency in creating an electronic sound, but Clark decided to challenge him -- and herself -- by making an acoustic record this time around.

"I said, 'We don't have to do this, but what would you think about cutting all acoustic?' [He said], 'I love that,'" Clark recalls. "From there, he became a little boy with a train set on Christmas."

In fact, it was Joyce's idea to strip down and streamline the production even further, using only a small, key group of musicians. He brought in two musical luminaries, Giles Reaves and Jed Hughes, to play on the record; the rest of the instruments, he and Clark covered.

"And that was a big challenge to me, because I've played on all my records, but because there were only four of us, I was gonna have to play a lot more," Clark explains. "We started cutting the record and I got a little bit scared, because I thought maybe we needed an electric guitar here or there. I said, 'We don't have to do it completely acoustic.' He said, 'No, but it'll be good if we paint ourselves into a corner, because then it'll be creative.' And it was."

The Album Cover

Clark shared the album cover art of Your Life is a Record on Jan. 10 via social media. It depicts the singer standing in front of a jukebox against a hilly outdoor landscape.

"To me, this album is about endings and beginnings," she wrote in the caption of the post. "You know, sometimes you have to have endings to have those beautiful beginnings. I hope you find yourselves in me finding myself."

The Single

The first single off of Your Life Is a Record is called "Who You Thought I Was." Clark released the track, the title of which comes from something John Prine said at an awards show, on Jan. 10.

The Songs

Though they were written over the course of a couple of years, many of the songs on Clark's new album are heartbreak ballads. Not all of them fit that description -- for example, one of the songs is inspired by the movie Jaws, while another is a kiss-off track based on one of the singer's mother's favorite quips -- but many are sad and reflective.

"Jay [Joyce] said to me, 'You know, this is a breakup record. And I said, 'Wow, it is,'" Clark says, thinking back to the time period where she and her teammates were listening back to the batch of songs that would go on to become the album. "I had gone through a breakup of a very long relationship and didn't realize that was just kind of in the air."

Clark's own life inspired the record, of course, but she also simply has a penchant for heartache ballads. "I love a sad song. When everybody hears this record, that's gonna be really obvious," she says dryly, pointing out the album's first track, "I'll Be Your Sad Song."

The lyrics that kick off the album gently examine a relationship that didn't work out. If each chapter of a person's life can be seen as a different track on an album, "I'll Be" might be one of that album's saddest points -- but it's still an important, beautiful piece of the puzzle.

"You know, probably to all but one person you encounter in your life, you are their sad song. And they're yours," Clark muses. "I've definitely been somebody's sad song. I've had a few people that've been my sad song. It's interesting."

Brandy Clark, Your Life Is a Record Track Listing:

1. "I’ll Be the Sad Song"
2. "Long Walk"
3. "Love Is a Fire"
4. "Pawn Shop"
5. "Who You Thought I Was"
6. "Apologies"
7. "Bigger Boat" (feat. Randy Newman)
8. "Bad Car" (Feat. John Osborne)
9. "Who Broke Whose Heart"
10. "Can We Be Strangers"
11. "The Past Is the Past"

The Tour

After a run of dates as direct support for Tanya Tucker on the CMT Next Women of Country: Bring Me My Flowers Now Tour, Clark will head out in the road for her headlining Who You Thought I Was Tour in support of her new record. That string of dates kicks off on March 28.

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