Brandi Carlile is, creatively, a trio.
The country and rock singer's full-out, unusually vibrant vocals are singular. Her exceptional songcraft, though, results partly from a long, close association with twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth.
The tall, skinny Hanseroths flank Carlile onstage during her invigorating live shows. Guitarist Tim Hanseroth and bass player Phil also are all over "Bear Creek," Carlile's latest album.
"They had a huge influence on this record," Carlile said by phone during a tour stop in Oklahoma.
One or the other Hanseroth co-wrote nearly every song on the album, recorded in a converted barn in Woodindale, Wash., outside Seattle.
T Bone Burnett produced Carlile's 2007 breakout album, "The Story," from which came the plaintive single of the same name Carlile's best-known song. Burnett's fellow superstar producer, Rick Rubin, produced Carlile's 2009 follow-up "Give Up the Ghost."
"Bear Creek," a bit rootsier than those albums, was produced by Carlile, the Hanseroths and Trina Shoemaker, longtime engineer for Sheryl Crow.
The twins probably produced more aspects of "Bear Creek" than she did, Carlile said.
But it's too hard to break down.
"It was such an experience of collaboration there; really no one is the producer and everyone is the producer," Carlile said. "It made our album sound really innocent because of it."
Carlile's highly expressive voice and heartfelt lyrics have won fans in high places, including Elton John, who appeared on "Ghost." Kris Kristofferson stars in the video for "That Wasn't Me," an aching ballad from "Bear Creek."
But her greatest musical affinity always has been with the Hanseroths, with whom she started playing in Seattle restaurants when she was a teen. She and the brothers share a full partnership in the band, and in record and publishing deals.
"I have always been of the opinion that when there is something good, someone will try to divide and conquer," Carlile said. "When I make an allegiance, I stay with it."
Carlile said she has turned down record and publishing deals that would diminish the strength of her collaboration with the Hanseroths.
The partnership is unusual, Tim Hanseroth said.
"There are a lot of bands that are structured in a different way, and you can go on tour and make a few bucks" without a real stake, Hanseroth said. "I wake up every morning and am so grateful to be able to do what I want to do, with Brandi and Phil."
Tim Hanseroth, 37, said he considers Carlile as much a part of the family as Phil. Carlile is family, at least by marriage, since Phil is married to Carlile's sister, Tiffany.
The family will grow in a few weeks when Carlile marries her partner, Catherine Shepherd. The pair will wed in Massachusetts, where Shepherd's father lives and where same-sex marriage is legal. A big a celebration will follow in Washington state, where same-sex marriage will be put to a vote on the November ballot.
Carlile has contributed money and time to "Yes On Referendum 74" efforts. She and several other prominent Washington musicians appeared in testimonial videos as part of the "Music for Marriage Equality" campaign.
"It is kind of an indicator issue for the rest of the country, and I hope and pray" same-sex marriage is legalized in Washington, Carlile said.
Carlile's social consciousness extends to her Looking Out Foundation. Carlile fans donate $1 from every concert ticket sold to the foundation's various causes, from the arts to women's issues, public health and the homeless.
Carlile's fiancée, Shepherd, heads up the foundation. She brings some expertise to the job she used to coordinate Paul McCartney's charitable endeavors.
"We got a high-profile, dangerously overqualified" person leading Looking Out, Carlile said with a laugh.
Shepherd currently travels with Carlile on her tour bus.
"It's the most peaceful I have ever been" on tour, Carlile said.
WHAT: Brandi Carlile and her band, which includes the Hanseroth brothers and cello player Josh Neumann (from nearby Nevada City) will perform
WHEN: 8 tonight
WHERE: Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 255 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley
COST: $35 members, $40 non-members
INFORMATION: www.thecenterforthearts.org, (530) 274-8384