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Brandi Carlile, 'Right On Time'

Brandi Carlile describes her forthcoming album, In These Silent Days out Oct. 1, as "drama mixed with joy." Carlile knows better than most how to convey wounded grace and strength in slow-building ballads, and "Right On Time" fits squarely into that tradition: The powerful song — and its video, which was directed by none other than Courteney Cox — reflects on conflict, regret and the singer's stubborn resolve to do better tomorrow than she did today.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)