I discovered Valerie June by a happy accident and am now completely enthralled by her and her self-titled “organic moonshine roots music.” The Tennessee native has a plaintive, piercing voice unlike anything I’ve ever heard—the heart of Aretha Franklin wrapped up in a boondock twang and supplemented by truly skillful guitar work. It’s that farmhouse, front porch pickin’, but with surprise slides thrown in here and there—sizzling with her high, LOUD notes to send shivers down your spine. I’ve had her album on repeat for over a week with no getting sick of it in sight. From the lonely “Somebody To Love” to southern homage “Tennessee Time” to the perfection ladies anthem “Workin’ Woman Blues,” it’s all gold.
I’m not the only one who’s in love with her unique sound, either. She recorded her most recent album, Pushin’ Against A Stone, at Dan Auberbach’s studio, who co-write some of the tracks. She’s also recorded with Old Crow Medicine Show, and toured with Jake Bugg, and made an AMA appearance. With her Medusa-like dreads and hawk-like eyes, she’s as much a visual force as a vocal one; I’ve found myself caught in YouTube wormholes watching her play and sing over and over.
Listen for yourself and tell me it’s not the damn most wonderful female voice you’ve heard all year.