Valerie June Pushin' Against A Stone

Valerie JunePushin' Against A Stone
It's always treading dangerous ground to talk about "authenticity" when it comes to any style of music. But there's a reason why artists from Memphis, for example, have played such a crucial role in the creation and development of so many genres. The city was the focal point of an area steeped in blues, gospel, country and soul talent, and artists who had the largest capacity to absorb those sounds invariably sounded like no one else. Valerie June is one such artist carrying on that Memphis tradition. Pushin' Against The Stone (her first non-self-released album, which is already a hit in Europe, where it was first heard back in the spring) is a stunning amalgamation of all the previously mentioned influences. What is remarkable, though, is how June's voice remains consistent throughout, from the field holler gospel of "Somebody To Love" to the twang of "Tennessee Time" and the garage-soul of the brilliant title track, one of a handful that most obviously bear the stamp of co-producer Dan Auerbach (the Black Keys). It surely must have been tempting for him, or whoever has been giving June advice, to make her stick to a single approach. However, Pushin' Against The Stone is a rare case when a young artist's natural instincts are spot-on. As both a singer and songwriter, June is a major talent with unlimited potential. (Concord)