Friday, 28 September 2018

GIG REVIEW: Chastity Brown - Kitchen Garden, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Thursday 27th September 2018

Sometimes an artist visibly grows into a gig and this certainly applied to Chastity Brown upon her return to the Kings Heath area of Birmingham. There had been a lengthy wait for a decent run of dates since the music of Chastity Brown took an upwards turn overseas on the back of her 2013 album release BACK-ROADS HIGHWAYS. Now we have had back-back tours in consecutive years and double visits to the West Midlands area on each occasion. Last year the tour was in a duo format with the Birmingham date hosted by the Hare and Hounds in a double bill presentation alongside Otis Gibbs. This year it was a case of popping across York Road and a more intimate evening without the duo partner or a co-headliner to share proceedings.

In light of this format and the absence of an opening artist, Chastity pitched up for a pair of sets armed only with a trusty acoustic guitar, a bucketful of songs and a voice anchored in the cradle of Midwest Americana. This is where the melting pot of country, blues, folk and soul bubbles away, quite frankly unaware of any genre classifications from outsiders .

Perhaps, it is the vocals of Chastity Brown that cast her adrift from the ruck of artists pitched to UK audiences as the next piece of Americana pie. This a voice protracting a cause and finding solace in the peace that music can provide. The gravelly inner feelings of her vocal chords transmit to a live audience with sumptuous ease and this experience enhances ten-fold when the atmosphere slips gently in a statuesque state of intimacy free of many filters.

Issues of ethnicity and sexuality hit the room early on, although put into perspective when compared to immediate threat of displacement and afflicted by declining health. Signature tracks ‘Colorado’ and ‘Drive Slow’ opened the set leaving minor wriggle room later for the likes of ‘Wake Up’ and a lauded attempt to extract ‘When We Get There’ from the barrels of her mind to fulfil a request.

On the new song front, a track believed to be titled ‘Wonderment’ had an introduction, this on a day where the new single ‘Mad Love’ was unveiled to folks, which may or may not have featured on the evening as frequently Chastity slipped into the zone of just falling into the next song after irreverent chat.

The second half took a more relaxed turn as Chastity felt the available chair was appropriate to raise the stakes of placidity. Momentarily, the notion of what happens on stage stays on stage prevailed as the cool Kitchen Garden vibes submerged a performer becoming increasingly at ease in an environment that was not quite expected at the outset.

The finale saw any remnants of electrification ditched, a phase that could have happened earlier. By now, the zone was perfectly transfixed and if on the off chance there were any Chastity Brown doubters present, their number would evaporate. This was an openhearted performance of the highest degree, rampant with an equal measure of confession and gratitude.

Whether you call it folk, soul, blues, singer-songwriter or whatever, this was just one woman from the Midwest, thousands of miles from home emptying her soul to a room full of strangers. No one will likely have an idea where Chastity Brown places her visit to the Kitchen Garden in the annals of a career, but this evening created an impressionable mark on those present.

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