[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]luesy, soulful, rich, and strong, Valerie June calls her music “organic moonshine roots music.” She has her own name for her music — how AWESOME is that?! Her ‘moonshine roots’ are grounded in her Tennessee upbringing, which I find a refreshing change from the catchy but, let’s be honest, rather rootless and inauthentic pop that is partially subsidized by our own rather rootless and globalizing world.
Valerie June, as she is known in the music world (her full name being Valerie June Hockett), made her big break in late 2012, early 2013, first in the UK and then the States. She began singing and was inspired to learn the guitar by her church and family while growing up. Music is in her blood.
June’s music incorporates all the good things about blues and country. Her songs tell the story of a woman nostalgic for the past but all the more strong for having been through it. As an artist, she is both unique because of her unusual voice and because of the stories that ground her songs. It is very apropos that she defines her music with the word roots. Although in interviews I’ve read she has tended to deny her songs’ autobiographical nature, secretly we all hope that the tales of heartache and finding oneself are true only because we can all relate and because they allow us to speculate about and romanticize June’s past. And most importantly because she’s so amazing and we basically want to be her (duh).
Her songs are both timeless and modern. Valerie June’s lyrics carry her own distinct style, while they simultaneously feel as though they had been pulled out of the archives of past country musicians, like June Carter. The lyric structure is simple and the content relate-able, and June still manages to capture the depth and sometimes anguish of the situations her songs describe: heartache, feeling lost, wanting renewal, broken relationships.
Some of her songs could be classified as acoustic folk, while others have a bit more rock-n-roll, but in each of them one can make out the connection to old country, gospel, folk, and blues. Citing influences such as Elizabeth Cotton and Alan Lomax, June’s own music brings to life a modern interpretation of this musical history.
The ultimate mix of contemporary nostalgia, Valerie June’s music feels authentic because it is. Perfect late summer and early fall listening, I highly recommend June’s work, especially her latest album Pushing Up Against A Stone.
Esther is above all an adventurer. She enjoys all things art, eating gluten free (it’s a lifestyle), surprising humor, traveling, theology and fashion. Her next big adventure is a move to Miami to live and work with families in a low-income neighborhood there.