“I think I found my new favorite vocalist,” the man next to me said to me as he leaned in, with a kind of euphoric smile on his face. This was Friday, October 26 at Icehouse at around one in the morning when Chastity Brown was finishing her set. The singer songwriter, back in town from her European tour, had just performed a mesmerizing set in the lowly lit restaurant, utterly taking the whole audience on a ride of emotion.
“If I seem delirious, it’s because I just got back from Europe,” Brown told the audience at the beginning of the set. “It’s so good to be home, it’s so good to be freezing!” Minnesota is lucky to have Brown call our state her home. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, her music carries with it the timber of Southern roots, of blues and soul, but it’s here from where the artist has been taking off in recent years.
Brown’s voice drips with luscious resonances. It’s deep and warm, and clear. It lulls you at one moment, and makes you want to jump out of your seat the next. Her lyrics can be poignant and dryly funny. “When I left my home this morning,” she sings, “You know I didn’t even cry / When I left my home, you know I didn’t even cry / I just bowed my head / Felt like bees were in my eyes.”
Backed up by guitar, bass, and drums (Brown herself plays guitar and banjo), Brown’s show could be smooth and groovy for one song and emotionally powerful in the next. She’s got a wonderful feel for dynamics and rhythm. She didn’t have any backup vocalists on Friday night, but she didn’t need them. Her voice is rich enough to carry her lyrics by itself.
Friday night was the second time that I’ve experienced Chastity Brown perform. The first was in the very intimate setting of the Cake Shop, where her music completely transfixed everybody in the room. Though Icehouse is a bigger venue than my first experience, I still had the feeling that everybody in that room was somehow moved by her performance.
As for myself, I was sitting by myself, in the corner, drinking wine and feeling like I was being taken on a journey. It’s the perfect kind of music for the kind of mood I was in—somber one moment, ecstatic the next. You’ll probably be hearing more about this young performer.
Ben Lubeck & David Strahan of Farewell Milwaukee
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