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Valerie June at Music on Maxwell
May 18, 2014 @ 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm$20-2520
“I feel like my whole life I’ve always had a stone I’ve been pushing,” she says, explaining the record’s title. “Some days it’s a good thing to have, like a best friend, and sometimes it’s your worst enemy. In the case of this record, I had so many friends helping me move the stone.”
Those friends include the album’s producers, Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe, Florence + The Machine), Dan Auerbach, and Peter Sabak, along with an all-star cast of fellow musicians ranging from Booker T. Jones and Jimbo Mathus to some of Hungary’s top session players. Recorded at Easy Eye in Nashville, Fairfax Recording in Van Nuys, CA, and Studio H in Budapest, the album is a showcase for June’s astonishing and singular sound, a blend of rural roots and country that bridges Alan Lomax’s acoustic field recordings with biting, electric indie-blues.
From the slide guitar shuffle of “You Can’t Be Told” and heavenly harmonies of traditional spiritual “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations,” to the stark, acoustic “Workin’ Woman Blues” and the uncanny darkness of “Twined and Twisted,” June effortlessly shifts between eras and genres. She can be haunting and melancholy, singing of loneliness on “Somebody To Love,” or full of warmth and charm, fondly recalling her home on “Tennessee Time.” At one moment seductive in a sensual come-on, fragile and vulnerable the next in a display of naked honesty, June transports you to another world the moment you hear her voice.
Ask her where it comes from, and she’ll tell you about her church. “Everybody sings in my church, there’s never a choir,” she explains. “There was every kind of voice you can think of, so I was always trying to sit beside somebody who had a cool voice and listen to them and see what I liked about it. I had 500 teachers three-days-a-week for 18 years.”
The result is a stunning studio debut from an artist who’s journeyed a long and dusty road, pushing a mighty stone all the way. It’s been a long night, but dawn is just breaking for Valerie June.