Eastern Mystic Soul and Blues
Memphis-bred, Brooklyn-based songwriter Valerie June is one of a kind. The Order of Time follows June’s 2013 breakout release Pushin’ Against a Stone that established her as one of the most interesting artists going around. The old-time blues aesthetic and quirky, but riveting, stage presence are hard to ignore. Her song stories are full of vivid and personal portraits of Southern life.
The Order of Time (Concord/Caroline Australia) showcases twelve original songs and there is a common thread with the previous collection as it evidences her stripped-back blues chant style. What is different here, though, is that we have essentially a soul album, but one with a difference.
here is an Eastern drone that overlays the album which provides for a quite hypnotic, even meditative style. The opener 'Long Lonely Road' and 'Love You Once Made' set the scene with June's vocals intense but measured. 'Shakedowns ' is fascinating as the most urgent song on the collection - a hill country blues foundation with a rustic doo-wop overlay. There's the Eastern chanting of 'If And' and 'Man Done Wrong', and the ethereal, attractive spirit of 'The Front Door. 'Two Hearts' is lilting and catchy, while we have the yearning 'Just In Time', the folky, string-laden 'With You', the slow building 'Slip Slide On By' and low-key soul track 'Got Soul'.
The new album was produced by Matt Marinelli and features appearances from June’s family – her father, Emerson Hockett and brothers, Patrick and Jason Hockett.
The Order of Time is a bold offering. While the vocal style on display here may not be to everyone's taste, this is an impressive release, cementing Valerie June as an artist that requires constant watching and investigation so we can revel in her uniqueness.