Songs Review: Valerie June at the Highline Ballroom

December 31st, 2013

Valerie June was a bundle of endearing eccentricities when she executed at the Highline Ballroom on Friday evening. Among tracks, with a mixture of candor and caginess, she supplied glimpses of her earlier and present as leisurely shaggy dog tales, informed in her rural Tennessee drawl. They were real-daily life tales of a country gal producing her profession in the broader planet, savoring the two the greens and corn bread her “mama” cooks and the baguettes and charcuterie of her existing home, Brooklyn. She’s no bumpkin.

Valerie June, whose previous identify is Hockett, has neatly labeled her fashion “organic moonshine roots music.” She has recorded with the Previous Crow Drugs Show, a Tennessee string band, and supplied down-residence backup vocals for each the nation songwriter Eric Church and the rapper John Fort?.

The album she unveiled in August, “Pushin’ Towards a Stone” (Harmony), unveiled parts of her persona: a large, sharp, proudly unpolished yowl of a voice with a nasal Appalachian bite and a gospel rasp. It’s her fourth album, but the 1st she hasn’t released herself. She sings about basic Americana topics — adore, loneliness, perform, wandering, religion and death — in songs that search toward previous-time region, nineteen sixties Memphis soul, backwoods blues and the Bob Dylan of “Blood on the Tracks.” The album cover exhibits her seeking modern, with elegantly coifed dreadlocks, and she was just as elegant onstage, even as she wielded a banjo.

Valerie June arrives to her musical type not out of provincial isolation, but as a regarded as option. She can sing an old-fashioned region waltz like “Keep the Bar Open” or a darkish blues-rocker like “You Can’t Be Advised,” for which she picked up an electric powered guitar. She wielded her banjo in “Workin’ Lady Blues” — far more a modal Appalachian tune than a blues — as her band was joined by a trumpeter from Budapest, enjoying traces that shifted the hoedown towards funk.

When she played her model of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” also on banjo, it harked back again past the blues to the audio of the West African lute, the ngoni, that was a very likely ancestor of the banjo.

She carried “Shotgun,” an eerie ballad of jealousy and murder, from unaccompanied singing to rugged electric stomp. But before she performed “Shotgun” arrived the tale of how she got the slide for her slide guitar — a plumbing coupling at a components keep — and why she was playing with a pink scarf wrapped about her finger (to make the coupling in shape, and to recommend the blood in the tune).

By the time the established was above, the audience also realized her birthday that she experienced worked “cleaning toilets” how she got a longtime monthly gig at Terra Blues, on Bleecker Avenue in Greenwich Village and played “hillbilly music” there how she’s striving to give up “cussin’ ” now that she sees kids in her audiences and which medication she makes use of (insulin and Tylenol). She was placing her listeners on what one of her music calls “Tennessee Time” — unhurried — but also introducing a character who could be just as unforgettable as her tunes.

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