Whether Becky Chace's songwriting is swaying more towards the country, blues, folk or roots rock end of the spectrum, there's no mistaking the heart and soul in her rich, visceral vocals. Chace's voice has drawn comparisons to everyone from Melissa Etheridge to Bonnie Raitt, and earned her the title of Rhode Island's best female vocalist for five years in the Providence Phoenix's best music poll. Together with longtime producer and collaborator Brian Minisce, the Rhode Island native has just released her tenth album, titled Rise and Fall. I sat down with her to talk about her inspiration, influences and advice for aspiring musicians.
The album, her first of new original material in four years, runs Chace's genredefying gamut while showcasing the incredible sincerity of her songwriting that has defined her music. “I love all kinds of music and think each song should be treated to its particular mood so I tend to try out different characters,” says Chace on her chameleon-like ability to change up her sound. “(The new record's) got a little bit of all the sides of my musical taste from the soul singer in ‘Lovin Arms' to the folkie in songs like ‘The Sea' to the twang on ‘Nobody's Loved You', and then there are a few pop songs in there as well like ‘Save Me' and ‘Rise and Fall.'” Start to finish, it's an album that resounds with poetic poignancy and captures the same efficiency with words that Chase has always admired in songwriting great Lucinda Williams.
“I find my songwriting inspiration from everyday occurrences, life events, emotions that creep up that you didn't realize were in there and really anything that interests me or catches my eye. I'll often write something and not understand it for a while then I'll realize I had subconscious feelings coming up through the lyrics. Writing often helps me understand myself, if that makes sense,” says Chace on songwriting.
With an album's worth of new material to share, Chace is looking forward to kicking off 2014 with a bunch of full band gigs around New England, while still continuing her monthly Friday night residency at Warren's Stella Blues. “I love a good little bar where you can hear great music in an intimate setting. Another favorite is my house. We have an annual house concert here and it's a blast,” says Chace. She also points to local picnic-style venues as favorites to play and catch shows at, from Fall River's The Narrows, Portsmouth's Common Fence and Tiverton's Sandywoods, which hosted a sold out crowd of fans, friends and family celebrating Chace's album release this past October. As for the New Year itself, Chace will be ringing it in with a full band show at the Broadway Lounge in East Providence that promises lots of dancing tunes.
It's been 15 years since Chace started playing shows around Rhode Island. Between the new record, tour and ongoing performances with female folk group The Jammin Divas and Neil Young tribute act Forever Young, Chace's star seems to just keep shining. What advice would the songstress give to aspiring local artists? “You have to be yourself and be passionate about it. That's what people are ultimately drawn to.” Wise words from a wise woman.