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Valerie June

Pushin' Against a Stone (Concord)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013

ACL Music Fest 2013 Saturday Reviews

Valerie June

Pushin' Against a Stone (Concord)

Valerie June's official debut manages a tour de force. Born in rural Tennessee between Memphis and Nashville, her music inhabits an extraordinary blend of the country, blues, and soul between the two music scenes and still remains thoroughly modern thanks to co-production from Dan Auerbach. "Workin' Woman Blues" sets the tone, a gnarled twang rooting the tune with the distinctiveness of folk-blues great Elizabeth Cotten before fervent percussion and horns slide in seamlessly to push the song into Afro-pop territory. Sparse banjo and harmonies wind together beautifully on "Somebody to Love," while "The Hour" and "Wanna Be on Your Mind" cut a dark, soulful sway with girl-group swagger, and "Tennessee Time" turns country in a duet with Eric Church. Even then, the wickedly electrified title track and thumping "You Can't Be Told" burst with Auerbach's influence up against the Appalachian spiritual "Trials, Troubles, Tribulation" and devastatingly haunted "Shotgun." Pushin' Against a Stone showcases a stunning and unique new voice. (2:30pm, BMI stage)

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ACL 2013 Fest

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