Brandi Carlile has a particular soft spot for Michael Ende's "The Neverending Story," going so far as to have two identical tattoos of the tale's mythical talisman, auryn, on her shoulders. There's a bit of irony to be had in the fact that the Washington-based artist, whose strengths lie in her cracking, operatic vocals and acoustic melodies, achieved her breakthrough moment with her 2007 album, "The Story." With her standout 2009 effort "Give Up the Ghost," an album that featured a guest appearance by Carlile's childhood idol Elton John, Carlile has cemented her status among some of the best female singers and songwriters playing today. On the road, Brandi Carlile is scheduled to perform at the National on Sunday, May 22, at 7 p.m. $21. 612-1900.