Saturday, 10 June 2017

Chastity Brown - St. George's Hall, Bewdley. Friday 9th June 2017

It should never be taken for granted, but it is refreshing for these monthly Bewdley shows to be so well-attended. However the main success is people listening to live music which isn’t soaked in populist expression, yet delivered with such strength and skill to reward an open minded approach. It also helps that the organisers are tuned into an artist network that delivers an endless supply of performers so adept at making top quality organic music. The latest artist to be humbled by the surroundings of St. George’s Hall is American roots singer-songwriter Chastity Brown, who is basing her latest UK visit around the release of the new album SILHOUETTE OF SIRENS.

A blended approach to making roots music has been a well used description for Chastity, especially when introducing her to UK audiences over the last couple of years. Essentially, she starts from a folk base and then branches out to wherever her feelings lead, frequently in a soul and blues direction. An earthy vocal characteristic coupled with harmonica and a mix of guitar styles paint the sonic picture, while from a theme perspective the heart lends heavily to the writing whether in introspective feeling mode or reaction to outside events. Alongside multi-guitar playing accomplice Luke Enyeart, Chastity cast a mesmeric spell across an attentive audience taking them to far away places, and not just from a literal geogrpahic angle.

During the seventy minutes that she spent on stage, Chastity split the time between shedding some light on what has guided her music and sharing a large chunk of the new album. It was unsurprising for her to attach the southern upbringing of residing in Tennessee as an enormous influence, which was increasingly realised when she uprooted and started a new life in Minnesota. The new album was instantly delved into from the outset with ‘Drive Slow’ adopting the dual role of both opening the record and this show.

For the odd few in attendance who may have been acquainted with the record, further insight was gained by learning that ‘Lies ‘was a political response to the unforgiving effects of system failure. Also that ‘How Could I Forget’ and ‘Lost’ were not unexpectedly linked to inner feelings with the former conveying the wise notion of living more in the present. The album’s standout track ‘Colorado’ shone like a beacon during the show and although it was one of the few songs not to have a comment attached, it is an exhilarating piece of music that blossoms without the need for any extras.

From a personal view, it is always interesting to detect the direction when a songwriter decides to add a cover to the show. The Minnesota connection aside, a Bob Dylan song was an appropriate choice; one made more interesting with a version of ‘I Was Young When I Left Home’. To end the show, Chastity journeyed in another covers direction when sharing her take on the Nina Simone song ‘Baltimore’. Both these songs enhanced the evening and neatly complemented the bulk of original material that tends to drive Chastity as a recording artist.

One more, this Music in the Hall presentation was complete with a youth and local act to support the touring artist. Two’s Company are a young duo starting off on a long road of playing live music. They showed a keen ear to popular classics which while lending them material these days may eventually lead to inspiring them creatively in the future. Another more experienced local duo under the name of Tale Lights followed the youngsters and mixed some interesting choice of covers with original songs. These were generated from an acoustic pop platform and possessed sufficient merit to gain airplay from the arm of BBC Music charged with promoting unsigned artists through an ‘introducing’ concept.

Apart from reporting the good health of these ongoing monthly promotions at the year’s midway point, it warms the heart that people in this vicinity are prepared to give relatively unknown acts a try, and back a judgement that an artist is not going to travel 5000 miles without something to offer. Chastity Brown does not disappoint on this score and will enhance your musical appreciation whether you choose to listen to her records or better still, make your way to one of her shows.

Review of Silhouette of Sirens

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