It was a random radio listen…
NPR… All Things Considered… And Valerie June.
I mean I listen to NPR and KCRW a lot… but not usually in the afternoon… and it is rarely on, in the car I was in.
Thankfully it was… and fortuitous for me, as many random things are.
What I missed of the interview and segment I found on-line, but I got most of it… and discovered a new artist in the process.
Valerie June sounds young… really young, especially when she talks. Maybe it’s her thick country twang, but I would have pegged her for someone in her early 20s. In fact, in my mind I pictured a young blonde. Not sure why… Maybe because her voice reminded me of the gal on Nashville… Clare Bowen who plays Scarlett O’Connor.
She is young… well not THAT young… 31. She is black, her hair is long and in dread locks…. and her voice moves through a variety of styles and genres with grace and ease. And it grabs you… or did, me.
Audie Cornish says during the interview: “Because we should say that you’ve got these beautiful dreadlocks and all of this gorgeous sort of jewelry and you look very, sort of ethereal and I don’t expect the voice that I hear coming out of here, coming out of your very young-looking face.”
She describes her own music as “Organic Moonshine Roots music,” and that is the perfect description, as there is a hell of a lot of good stuff going into that still. She mixes in is Gospel, Appalachian Folk, Blues, American Roots, Bluegrass and a whole mess of Tennessee hooch.
June has been recording since she was 19, and this hard-working, Southern chantreuse has self-released three albums, before this, her label debut. This record is co-written and co-produced with Kevin Agunas and Dan Auerbach (He of The Black Keys, of course)
All Music says her voice “falls in a lineage line between Eartha Kitt and Erykah Badu, with hints of the young Esther Phillips and even Dolly Parton.”
I’d love to toss some of Welsh singer Duffy (if you twanged her up) and June Carter Cash into that cocktail shaker, as well… but perhaps that’s just because I like the potential word play of Valerie June Carter Cash…
However you shake it up, this album pours nice and smooth.
In fact, it makes me want to pull up a rocking chair on the porch of some Southern dwelling… and just rock… and sip… and listen…
The cool of the night… the stars in the sky… the song of the South… Yeah, you gotta love June.