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.

Singer-songwriter Chris Brown releases his new album, "Anchor" on June 27 at Anchor's Bend in Convention Hall.

Singer-songwriter Chris Brown releases his new album, “Anchor” on June 27 at Anchor’s Bend in Convention Hall.

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