Justin Rutledge Valleyheart

Justin Rutledge Valleyheart
8
Given the quality of the records he's released regularly, Rutledge has to be considered an under-valued talent. He comes up with another winner with Valleyheart, his fifth album and first on Outside. There's no great variation in his style with it, although female harmony vocals (via Carina Round) are employed a little more. His regular band of "killer Bs" (David Baxter, Burke Carroll, Bazil Donovan and Blake Manning) return, while guest fiddle, horn and mandolin players, and a vocal choir add sonic depth. It's this combination of rich musical textures, plaintive yet assured vocals and eloquent, poetic lyrics ("You were the valley below, you were the weight of the snow") that places Rutledge a cut above his peers. As with his other releases, the subtle strengths of Valleyheart take a few spins to fully emerge, but they unquestionably do on a record sure to delight a faithful following that should be larger. There are gorgeous scenic visuals on the cover and album booklet as well. (Outside)