Little Words, the new full-length project from Chico’s Karen Joy Brown, is a satisfying collection that aptly displays the artist’s wide-ranging acoustic palette via voice, strumming guitar and songwriting. Starting off with a crisp and irresistible title track, followed by the equally infectious, mid-tempo “Made for TV,” the aural experience widens as Brown’s voice, a throaty, sultry mix of pop, jazz and soul, harks back to such contemporary jazz vocalists as Linda Tillery and Cassandra Wilson. Elsewhere, the quick, scatty-jazz essence of “De Rien” is followed nicely by “I Know What Heaven Is,” an insightful ballad of perseverance that offers, “It’s the sand that makes the pearls.” Brown’s backing band, the Bona Fides (Chris Wenger on electric guitar and the CN&R’s Christine LaPado adding some fine upright bass passages) enhances the album along with David Silva, who contributes nimble acoustic lead licks plus a song of his own, “Deep Blue.” Brown is back in Chico after a stint in Spain, passionate, reflective and refueled, offering musical messages reflecting life’s lessons she’s learned so far. “Show that small town that you ain’t done yet,” she offers in the encouraging “Daisy,” closing the album with a tender, gospel-tinged “Scarlet Silence,” with its message to “stop and savor every echo in our mind.”
Karen Joy Brown performs Friday, July 2, 8 p.m., at 1078 Gallery.