When hope is in short supply the question becomes who can you turn to? Chastity Brown turns to hope, it permeates her latest release, Sing to the Walls. Even when everything appears bleak Brown has faith that there are still reasons to look to the future feeling that the world is a place worthy of change, and that it can be changed for the better. These days that is a pretty heavy notion. She points out, “One thing I’ve said before is that I don’t serve sadness the way I used to, where it was like, oh, sadness, let me get you a seat. Let me find you a blanket. Let me pour you some wine. After the shit I’ve been through, I just can’t now. There’s enough of it. I don’t have to make extra room for darkness.”
With no place for the sadness Brown makes it clear that doesn’t make her a pushover. ‘Golden’ was written during the George Floyd protests of 2020 that originated in her own South Minneapolis neighbourhood. As a gay, Black woman she has much to deal with, yet she makes it clear, “I’ve got joy even when I’m a target/ if you think that’s political/ don’t get me started.” Amidst the guitar and keyboards the realisation hits as she sings a manifesto to those who don’t understand, “Would it go down easier/ If I sang softer?” Yet there is no way to sing softer in the face of hundreds of years of injustice.
Rather than being a call to action, the opening track ‘Wonderment’ deals with visions and how knowing what to expect can create a pathway through the hardest times. It takes the listener on a journey, from the slow motion opening section to a more electrifying journey where the instruments become bolder without ever becoming heavy handed. She takes roots music and follows where the strands lead her, adding colours along the way.
Her first step in production work, she comes up a winner again and again. The album doesn’t fit neatly in any particular box, yet it also never seems overstep, her vision and her music seem to have found a perfect fit. In ‘Loving the Questions’ she takes aim at moments, memories and feelings, “What can we do here/ what words can we speak?/ Language is silence with the spaces between.”
Brown sings freely and lovingly on ‘Sing to the Walls’. The guitars frame gentle images, yet the drums have an undeniable power that along with the organ paint a picture that is a bit bolder than one might have expected. By the time she sings, “I will sing to your walls/ hope it gets through./ And I will sing to your scars/ they need healing too.”
Chastity Brown goes down so many pathways on Sing to the Walls. Along the way she displays a sense of undeniable hope in a bright future. One where we can all walk together. Surely such notions aren’t out of date.