Although she grew up singing gospel in her native Tennessee, Chastity Brown thought that when she moved to Minneapolis some 12 years ago she was going to be an indie rocker. Before the move she describes being “obsessed” with the rock bands she heard around Knoxville.
“I think when you are first starting out you try to emulate the people you’ve heard,” Brown said. That was no longer possible, however, when she found herself living in the Midwest.
“I really like the Midwest—I find it fascinating,” she said, but I didn’t know anyone so I didn’t have any local influence. I think that helped me figure out what I really wanted to sound like. I realized I wasn’t an indie rocker — even though some of my songs have rock in them.”
Brown now considers herself a folk artist and if the critical reviews of her soulful debut album with the prestigious Red House label are any indication, she’s become a very good one.
“Silhouette of Sirens” is the name of the album that NPR Music has called “a work of brooding soul eloquence, alt-rock wiriness, atmospheric pop sweetening and folk-inflected naturalness.” Other adjectives heard in critics’ responses to the album are “powerful” and “thoughtful.”
Brown, who is touring Europe and America this summer will be at Driftless Books and Music in Viroqua on Aug. 19. At that concert she’ll showcase many of the songs from “Silhouette of Sirens,” along with favorite songs from previous albums as well as covers of songs from artists like Nina Simone and Bob Dylan.
The album’s opener — “Drive Slow” — is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a plea to slow down and savor the moment. Unlike almost all the other songs, it’s not about heartbreak of one sort or another.
“As a child, my heart was broken, and it has taken me so long to mend that and allow love in my…