Valerie June –The Order of Time

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Valerie June appeared on my radar when several friends included Pushin’ Against the Stone on their 2013 “Best of” lists.  It took me a few listens to figure out if I liked it.  Thank you, Spotify.  I then fulfilled my anachronistic foundings and purchased the CD.  I’m glad I did.  It was exTheorderoftimeceptionally tuneful with sharp lyrics as had an enthusiasm to it due to a spirited vocal delivery and the backing music.  The only issue was her voice.  Female, fine.  African-American, fine.  Blues/Soul styling, fine.  Appalachian accent?  Or, a pronounced southern twang? I’m not a country music fan, but.. whatever.   That was the hurdle.

Her new CD doesn’t sit quite as well as the last, but not for lack of quality but rather a tone that musically and lyrically speaks more directly to tough times - a life of labor, the passing of time, broken and disappointing relationships… Accordingly, the music leans more to the blues rather than soul, not that the subject matter is tremendously different from her previous effort.  But to my ear, while there’s a little less ear candy, there’s more to concentrate on lyrically given her mature reflections and, often, precision in expression.  Following are sample stanzas from some of her songs.

Men are born strong
Then broken down
Burdened at birth
’til six feet in the ground

Pops earned his bread in dust
But his hard working hands fed us
Sun up to sun sink down
His body worked to the ground

Folks thought we had it made
‘Cause we always kept a face
Meanwhile there’s bills to pay
Stack growing everyday

When my voice was dry
And my eyes were sore from tears
You taught me how to face my fears
I’ve tasted love before
But I never saw the light
Until you opened up the door

I had learned to live alone
A quiet house keeps a weak mind strong
Though I’d settled in my ways
Mighty fine waking to your face

This is a really good CD for music listeners who pause to appreciate intricacies of a work.  I’d prefer slightly less production, though, because understanding her words is sometimes difficult – but also an affirmation of buying the CD with lyrics included.

4 of 5 STARS_thumb

 

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