18 Mar SAVINGCOUNTRYMUSIC.COM: Album Review – Valerie June’s “The Order of Time”
Valerie June is the kind of cool everybody wants to be. She started out as roots music’s own little special creature with her primitive country Gospel soul songs—an unearthed gem of Americana made that much more cherished because it was a personal discovery way before the general population caught on. She was both unique and familiar, rootsy and fresh, and almost immediately destined to not be contained within a narrow collection of listeners “in the know” in American roots. It was too cool. The music, and just her image was exactly the type of hipness Coca-Cola and Calvin Klein underwear commercials crave. As has been the way for other independent artists, Valerie June got more exposure though a JCPenny spot and the Shazam app than she did mainstream radio. But she got it.
Now you see her all over the place. She’s gracing the cover of Spotify playlists and songwriter magazines. It’s incredible where you’ll see Valerie June’s visage show up. It’s because she looks cool with her gaggle of stylized dreadlocks and is a symbol of diversity. It’s the type of the diversity the hoity-toity upper crust music listener likes to assure themselves they’re into, even if they don’t particularly understand the music. With Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys producing her first record, Valerie June went from underground country Gospel roots to getting invites from every major festival in the country. It was almost enough to be off putting for the greasy independent-minded country fan if the music wasn’t so good.
By the time Valerie June’s second major release The Order of Time arrived, her mystique was preceding her. She made the perfect image to put as the avatar on your think piece about the type of diversity we need in the Trump era, assigning all sorts of assumed leanings to her and her music to get their point across, and glossing over the fact that she is still a very Southern, traditionally-raised artist from the cradle of the Mississippi river who is not particularly media savvy, or even politically active with her music. The first song off of The Order of Time starts, “Pile in the church pew rows. Grand makes the bestest rolls.” But she’s still cool.
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