Chastity Brown's Back-Road Highways Minnesota tour announced

The last time Chastity Brown released an album, it was summertime, two years ago, with High Noon Teeth -- a soulful piece, as bathed in vivid storytelling as Chastity's Tennessee background would have you believe. Since then, Chastity has been building her reputation further as Minneapolis' star soul singer, the woman with the roots and the voice that doesn't really sound like the Midwest, but somehow fits right in. She has recently announced the release of her fourth full-length album, Back-Road Highways, due out officially on March 24 at the Cedar Cultural Center.

In her latest offering, Chastity gives the listener a library of blues history, modern soul, and unabashed poetics that seep in along the edges of every verse. At the same time, Chastity maintains a unique style--the real power in her music is her ability to make every lyric sound completely of-the-moment, like improv focusing inward.

Then again, Chastity Brown is not one to steer away from strong emotions.

"We have been working on this album for a year now," said Chastity of the album's progress. "The road, I feel, is 'trial by fire'. It's quite literally the unknown. [The music] has a way of getting to a person or artist... I am thankful that we have never had anything thrown at us."

It's hardly the audience that could do the damage. The songs on Back-Road Highways will hit you square in the chest, knock the wind out of you, and make you stand up straighter. Unflinching pseudo-political tunes like opening track "House Been Burnin'," with its sandpaper-dry, lonely string guitar and Chastity's scratchy vocals, stand alongside heartbreaking, not-quite-ballads like "Solely."

In making this album, Chastity went south again, and found a home in the renowned studios of Nashville-based C&D Music Network -- who have also signed Chastity onto their label. This is a big step for the artist, who has released her previous three albums without a label backing.

"It costs a lot of money just to make a decent record with quality sound, and having assistance with something as simple but crucial as that is amazing," said Chastity of the support of the label. "For me personally, they are very supportive of creativity and place no margins around what I create, and that's huge."

But for a southern delivery, Chastity didn't steer clear of the influence of Minneapolis, and brought in the local talent of Robert Mulrennan (No Bird Sing) to accompany her on the album.

"[Mulrennen] and I have spent a couple of years playing and writing together," said Chastity. "His tone is so unique, and he knows what to play without me asking... I hope the whole band can go on the road, but it usually varies depending on the gig. At the Cedar show, we'll have Robert Mulrennan (guitar), Michael X. (drums), Jef Sundquist (bass), DeVon Gray (piano), and few special guests."

Following is a list of the shows Chastity has booked in Minnesota to promote Back-Road Highways, beginning in March and leading up to her CD Release Party at the Cedar.

3/1/2012 - Duluth - Amazing Grace
3/9/2012 - Grand Marais - Gunflint Tavern
3/10/2012 - Grand Marais - Gunflint Tavern
3/12/2012 - Lutsen - Papa Charlies
3/16/2012 - Mankato - The Coffee Hag
3/24/2012 - Minneapolis - Cedar Cultural Center - w/ Romantica & Black Audience

Tickets are on sale now for the CD Release Show at the Cedar Cultural Center. 8 p.m., $10. To purchase, see the Cedar website

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