SINGER-SONGWRITER CHRIS BROWN RELEASES HIS “ANCHOR”
Chris Brown’s songs are stories about life.
Like many who have spent the majority of their life in the Asbury Park area, the soulful Chris Brown has seen a lot. He started sharing those observations 16 years ago when he picked up his first guitar at the encouragement of his dad.
A year ago, Brown recorded nine songs – ranging from the playful to the heart wrenching – and now his new album, “Anchor,” will be released later this month thanks in part to a huge response from a recent crowdfunding campaign. The title of his album and many of the tracks are a nod to Asbury Park which he considers his life’s anchor. Asbury Park is the city he has found himself in, as well as his beautiful wife.
In anticipation of the release of “Anchor,” I spoke with Brown.
TBP: Everything about this album is you in the most engaging and vulnerable way.
Brown: I always wanted to be a songwriter since I was a kid and heard my dad playing his guitar. Once I could, I stayed holed up in my room for hours and hours messing around with my guitar at my desk trying to teach myself how to play. To help learn, I watched videos like Guns and Roses performing “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” That was actually the first song I played.
After a few years, my dad gave me his 1975 Gibson J200 guitar for Christmas and that changed everything for me. I started hearing chords, melodies and verses in my head. When I write music, I only use that guitar.
Now, playing the guitar is like breathing for me.
TBP: In many of the “Anchor” tracks you also play the harmonica, which adds a unique layer of age and soul to your universal words.
Brown: Having the ability to play the harmonica adds auxiliary ornamentation – a counter melody or a continuous melody. On an emotive level, it helps me express the lyrics more and color the lyrics. Sometimes the harmonica speaks the unspoken.
TBP: Last year, you performed for thousands of music fans at the Atlantic City Beach Fest. What is it like for you, as a singer-songwriter, to see a crowd responding to your words?
Brown: It is the ultimate of being a songwriter. I want people to be happy and that is why I perform the (bleep) out of any music I play.
The lyrics in my songs bring out universal truths. I am a narrative songwriter. I like to tell stories. I have a teaching degree and grad school helped me deconstruct and construct lyrics. Also, my dad coached me as a writer. Not in a musical sense but in an academic sense. He is an amazing interpreter of music.
When I was younger I wrote a lot of crappy, contemplative love songs. Now that I am older, all types of relationships are an inspiration for me but I am not a sad sack.
For example, “Miss July” is not about a person, it is about a pinnacle month for me and I wrote the song to share and remember it.
Songwriting may be a form of therapy or letting it out for me but getting the music heard and seeing people respond – especially mouthing the words to my music – is surreal. I am grateful and blessed that people respond to what I have been doing for so long.
More about Brown and his new album at Facebook.com/ChrisBrownAP.