The Week In Music: Fall Meet Valerie June, Valerie June Meet America


I hate to break it to you, but summer is almost over. The weather is cooling, football is on the television, the managers are changing. Soon, all those leaves will be brown, and the sky grey.

Luckily, Valerie June has released an amazing album to cozy up inside of just in time.

Every couple of years there comes an artist who firmly has one foot in the past, and the other pointed towards the future (because she likes it)

Norah Jones. Amy Winehouse. Adele.

All have breathed fresh life into forgotten styles that defy the pop formula. It’s usually the type of things they give Grammys for.

Pushin’ Against A Stone” is a kickstarter-fueled masterpiece straight outta Memphis. It’s backwater and crunchy without ever feeling forced or nostalgic. June bleeds soul, folk, country, blues, bluegrass, and southern-tinged rock so effortlessly here it’s astounding. Yet, it all feels fresh and crisp. The girl is a star.

The album opens with the up-tempo muddy groove of “Workin’ Woman Blues“. It’s an anthem with a wink and tapping foot, building you up just in time set you down softly in the simplistically raw “Somebody To Love“. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful, coming from the back pew of old soulful church.

That’s a one-two punch she does really well throughout.

On songs like “The Hour” and “Wanna Be On Your Mind“,  June sways through in sultry fashion. Which makes country out-back jamborees like “Tennessee Time” and “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” that much more impressive. It all coexists and fits nicely with the mortar of June’s unique tones.

Still among all the genre bending stands a song “dred and shoulders” above the rest.

The Black KeysDan Auerbach has his prints all over “Pushin’ Against A Stone“. June’s voice wins the battle against a wall of blues guitars, garage fuzz, and a choir of shout-backs. It’s tingly. Like somebody put Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan‘s “Ballad Of A Thin Man“, and a Sunday morning Baptist service in a blender. So so good.

June played a sold out show at the tiny Tin Angel last night. If you saw her there, consider yourself lucky. You’ll never see her there again. Girlfriends bout to blow up in the best of ways. Watch out for Grammy shrapnel.

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