When you talk about folk or country music in the UK, it is the likes of Mumford & Sons that most people think of. With her well-thumbed guitar and her thick Tennessee accent, Valerie June has brought back the southern American sound of country and blues that’s seldom heard nowadays.
June says that Pushin’ Against a Stone, her first studio LP, is about waking up in the morning and feeling the weight of responsibility, “the cream and the coffee”, as she puts it. That’s a sentiment she nails, whether it be in the gallant timbre of ‘Workin’ Woman Blues’, the gentle lullaby of ‘Somebody to Love’, or the ache in her voice on the album’s title track. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys also helps support June’s musical vision with minimal production.
This album appraises the imperfections of life and reminds you that, without them, the good times wouldn’t be so sweet.
Pushin’ Against a Stone was released on Sunday Best Recordings in August 2013. Valerie June released her latest single, ‘Cosmic Dancer’, in 2019.
[This article was first published on aaronlee.co.uk on December 19, 2013.]
Image: Matthew Wignall/PR