Valerie June - Pushin' Against A Stone
Are the Black Keys, or more specifically Dan Auerbach, trying to take over the world? Auerbach’s production is in demand as his band's popularity soars, and you can see why. The latest to benefit from his golden touch is Valerie June’s Pushin’ Against A Stone, her proper label debut. Her musical leanings are as you’d expect from a native of Jacksonville, Tennessee, with touches of blues, soul, bluegrass, and roots. And though her unique vocal style sounds somewhat like a female Neil Young, there’s something about the vibe of Pushin’... that leaves you feeling like you’re listening to America’s equivalent of an early Amy Winehouse. Throughout the tracklist there’s a smattering of Black Keys-inspired rock, with the familiar guitar riffs present and correct on ‘Wanna Be On Your Mind’, latest single ‘You Can’t Be Told’, and the terrific ‘Pushin’ Against A Stone’. Intertwined are the softer roots and blues intonations of the likes of ‘Twined & Twisted’, ‘Tennessee Time’, and the elegant beauty of ‘Shotgun’. A guest slot from American legend Booker T. Jones on ‘On My Way’ is a big thumbs up from the establishment. Other standout tracks are ‘Workin’ Woman Blues’' mixture of busy guitar and horn section, and June’s simple cover of the old bluegrass gospel standard ‘Trials, Troubles, Tribulations’. For a debut mainstream release this is a very encouraging start; you suspect there are even brighter days ahead for Miss June.