Chastity Brown’s latest album, Silhouette of Sirens, is fierce. When I say that, I mean that it’s reflective of a whole range of emotions–heartache, vulnerability, anger, longing–that, taken together, develop a sense of honesty and strength that runs through the record. She is the type of singer who can perfectly match her vocals to the emotional depth of the lyric and melody, airy and light one moment, raspy and powerful the next.
“Drive Slow,” the first song, sets the tone for the album, with Brown wringing out the chorus: “Drive slow, I don’t really want to miss. / What is even happening? One can only guess.” The instrumentation on the song varies from a full band to just a fingerpicked guitar with a hum of organ in the background and back again. This sense of movement follows through the record; in most of the songs, Brown explores shifting emotions, not single feelings.
“Whisper,” might be my favorite song on the record. “Won’t you whisper in my ear all that you want to / Won’t you whisper in my ear all that you need,” she sings and it reminds me so much of how Nina Simone would bend notes on songs like, “In The Dark,” or, “Sugar In My Bowl.” It’s not that Brown’s voice reminds me of Nina; it’s that she is able to, on “Whisper” and on other tracks like “My Stone,” perfectly hit the right note, even when the right thing to do is to let her voice crack a little bit, and fulfill the song.
If you can’t tell by this point, I love this album. Fans of Brittany Howard’s voice (Alabama Shakes) will find someone who can go toe-to-toe, when it comes to vocal power. What Brown brings to the music is the knowledge that a whisper can be just as devastating and powerful as a howl.
Photo Credit: Nate Ryan