Monday, December 22, 2014

Memories #17

Valerie June - Pushing Against a Stone

I don't really understand why I am attracted to country music. So much of it is absolutely ridiculous - the fashion, the hats, the lyrics, the twang - but when I hear it played just right, it's almost like I am listening from the center of my heart. I wasn't raised with the sound of a slide guitar in the background. I didn't listen to country ballads nor was I even aware of the great musicians who came from the heartland of America. I simply became more aware of it when I began to expand on my musical tastes and started to crave it. Now, I'm not one to gravitate toward the bland flavor of conservative mainstream culture but I'm also not one to go off the deep end of the extreme cyanide dreams of total revolution. I like the type of cultural experience that is just a bit off-kilter. I like it new and strange and hopefully surprising. Valerie June's album Pushing Against a Stone hit all of those aspects of music for me. It has a country sound but it also is so much more than that. There are times when I'm grooving with a smooth swing or crunching with a thriving hammering guitar or twisting with a pop sensibility. Now, I'm not talking about country-pop (God forbid!) but more of that sixties pop sound. For some reason I could picture June in a sixties girl pop group wearing matching tacky outfits with knee-high boots, swinging her hips while she and her bandmates belt out top forty hits to screaming teenagers. Another life, I guess. For now, we get a surprising new voice that does so many things right.

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