Until recently, Brandi Carlile hadn't confirmed that she is, indeed, a lesbian. Since she dropped her eponymous debut in 2005, much of the attention surrounding the Seattle singer-songwriter has deservedly been focused on something far more riveting: a walloping, from-the-gut voice that shreds through songs like it's some kind of singing chainsaw.

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And my favorite songwriters in life are able to write about bigger things than themselves and their moment. lang, the Indigo Girls, and Elton John as some of your favorites -- and they're all gay.

How does it feel to know that someone might call you a role model because you're gay?

Well, when I was at the age that I found them, they were gay role models just like I hope that somewhere in the world a teenager is able to look to me and my records in the same way.

I hope that they're able to say the same thing about me from a place of success and from a place of acceptance as a part of society, instead of oppression.

I hope that they're able to look to me and say that I was a role model and helped them get somewhere that makes happy with themselves, because my role models helped me get to where I'm happy with myself.

Before you confirmed you were a lesbian to the Los Angeles Times, your sexuality had been a mystery to some people.

What does your sexuality being no big deal say about the progress that we're making as a society?

It's a very candid album -- probably your most candid. I learned a lot about who I was in the past and who I want to be in the future, which was something that I've been trying not to do.

What did you learn about yourself while you were writing it? For years now, I've been trying to live in the moment, and I had to leave that moment to make this record.

I spent the last couple of years writing this record in a sort of discontented place.

But I was able to really transcend the place I was in because it was inspiring; I was on a tour bus -- and that's inspiring to me, but it might not be inspiring to everybody else in the world.