If Valerie June had been a roots artist in America 80 years ago, and she often sings as if she was, she might have been a principle influence on today’s myriad retro troubadours, hers a stunningly emotive amalgamation of blues, folk, gospel, soul, Appalachian and bluegrass (including irresistible banjo). She exists, however, today, an artist as modern as an iPod Shuffle, a musician for the generation which carries the entire history of recorded music so casually inside its phone.
Like a potent distillation bubbling on a Prohibition-era porch, Valerie June makes self-styled “organic moonshine roots music”, music for the porch parties of today, a party where she strums her guitar, plucks her banjo, opens her mouth and delta-blues-country stridently sashays out, a stunning peal somewhere between Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday. Or is it more Wanda Jackson and Shirley Goodman, you know, from Shirley & Co, who sang Shame Shame Shame so disco friskily in 1974? Valerie June does this to you: reaches inside your musical brain and shakes it, unleashing ghosts, emotions and memories, all fluttering like countless musical flakes inside the snowglobe of your mind. Continue reading