Originally from Memphis, but now calling Brooklyn home, Valerie June stunned the musical firmament on 2013’s Dan Auerbach-produced Pushin’ Against a Stone. An amalgam of Southern styles she calls “organic moonshine roots music” – blues, gospel, soul, and trad folk sung in an old-timey voice – it announced the arrival of a major artist. The title of next month’s highly anticipated follow-up, The Order of Time, does not refer to the years between records.
“There are so many people who’ve supported my journey,” explains the singer, 35. “From booking me or giving me a kind word to the bunch of people who told me I was terrible when I first started. So it’s not only my journey, it’s our journey. The whole journey from when I was young is the reason why I called it The Order of Time. I don’t even think about the time between records, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a day off.
“I toured from 2014 to 2016, doing 200 shows a year, and as soon as I got off the road I started making a record. That’s different work than the road work, but it’s still work. So here we are. It’s 2017 and I’m putting it out and I’m on the road again, which is the funny thing.”
The new album brings a new expansiveness to June’s music. One song in particular stands apart. “Man Done Wrong” entrances with a hypnotic banjo riff betraying African origins rather than American bluegrass.
“I really wanted to set the banjo free on this record,” claims June. “When I got that song I said to myself, ‘This is so tribal.’ It surprised me [laughs]. So I had to learn how to play it on the banjo. I can play to my songs, but that’s about it.”– Jim Caligiuri
The Staves’ don’t-give-a-damn crescendo “Tired as Fuck” burns cigarette butts into leather seats through jigsawed blues and fuzz guitar. While the UK sister trio explores new terrain, expect their honeysuckle harmonies and tumbleweed acoustics to revisit the Seventies American folk of Dead & Born & Grown. And find comfort in 2015’s Bon Iver-produced If I Was, equal parts mysticism, heartbreak, bare-boned pain.– Alejandra Ramirez