Pieta Brown sounds familiar but new
It was like dropping in at an old friend’s family room and listening to some music with a bunch of friends and a couple of strangers new in town.
That’s the way it was Tuesday night at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall for Pieta Brown and Bo Ramsey — a bunch of old friends listening to something new but strangely familiar.
There were blues tunes, westerns, folk and even touches of jazz when slim, dark-haired Brown stepped up to the microphone and began strumming her guitar and offering a kind of song-talk that told tales in her own words of lost loves, old friends and missed moments.
Brown has an easy-going, fluid style, singing phrases punctuated with short breaks.
She’s about as far from bubble-gum singers as New York is from Nevada. She’s 28, and yes, she’s the daughter of Greg Brown, and like her dad she writes most of her own material. That’s why almost none of the songs Tuesday night rang a bell. But they didn’t have to: They told the story just fine. Right now she’s on tour promoting her self-titled CD on Trailer Records.
While most of the songs were almost recitations of lost hours, Bo Ramsey’s lead guitar was a clear demonstration of his years as a traveling musician, given to plaintive strings of single notes that recalled all kinds of moments in lonely contemplation.
At times Brown would hunker down next to him, staring as his fingers roaming over strings as if she could absorb his years of experience with such as Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown, Joan Baez, Kevin Moore and Dave Moore.
Her voice is difficult to place — low, demanding attention. She sings in short, brisk phrases, now and then sinking almost to her knees at a critical point in the song. At other times she is reserved, shy at the microphone but gaining confidence as the night wore on.
Altogether, she and Ramsey made a fine pair — the old pro and the new talent on her way. The music was wry, witting, melancholy, but always warm.
And what did she think of playing in modest circumstances such as the Performance Hall to an audience of about 50?
“We go where the music takes us,” she said with a shrug. We can hope it takes her and Ramsey back here again.