Soon to be released, “Back-Road Highways” – Chastity Brown (C.D.M.N. Records) – the fourth full length release from the roots, americana artist, arrived on my desk the other day. Being pretty familiar with her most recent record, “High Noon Teeth,” I put it on the player, and it’ been there since.
Back-Road cruisin’ and Highway jams
are what keep this record moving. Brown sets the pace right out of the gate with a tasty 808 beat and some down home slide . House Been Burnin puts some fuel to the engines right out of the gate. The Tennessee native has something to say, and a unique way of saying it. The album’s opener gives one a feeling of leaving the old behind, and sets us up for the hopeful feeling of the second cut When We Get There, with it’s floating guitars, organs, and harmonica.
“She’ll put a spell on you,” says her website bio. “Sweet as molasses and woodsmoke, clear and burning as summer sun, Chastity Brown casts magic. Her voice brings you to the crossroads with every turn, warms, comforts and challenges you.”
I could not agree more whole-heartedly! This little gal has got some deep roots. From the power of Mavis Staples, to Bonnie Raitt, blues like Johnson and soul like Green come rolling out like stealin’ the T-Bird to head to the juke-joint, as in I Left Home, with it’s floor stompin’ beat.
The African beats and rhythms of of After You keep me playing it over and again. This might be my favorite track on the record. This is one of those rare cuts in which superb arrangement, musicianship, and a beautiful story combine to make real music!
It happens again on the fast-paced Lift Us. Right from the start I had that feeling of riding through the mountains, with the sun coming through the trees just right to make almost hypnotic patterns on closed eyelids. You know the feeling… just before you open your eyes to find you’ve arrived at a very special destination.
Brown’s voice has a way of conveying feelings like few others, and her creative and purposeful songwriting gives her an edge over other independent roots artists.
Could’ve Been A Sunday is another track that gets stuck on repeat, somehow. I could play it all night. Come to think of it, I have been playing “Back-roads Highways” all night.
Emotions run the gamut with this record, with questions and longing, hurt and desire, being answered with love and warmth at the end of the journey. It’s a cruise down the back roads, a top-down drive on the highways, and a Sunday walk through the old times; a trip I highly recommend making. I’ll be driving it often!
Back-Road Highways was recorded at Helsinki South studios and other studios in Nashville, Tennessee with the support of Chastity’s new label, C & D Music Network. Produced and Mixed by Paul Buono and coproduced by Brown herself, and some top session players joining Brown’s stage band, this is a brilliant sounding record. The audio geek in me would just love to kick back and cruise with the hi-res version, or better yet, a vinyl copy.
I gotta say, “Two Thumbs Up” on this one, Chastity! “Back-Roads Highways” will be on my play-list for a while.