Valerie June’s multi-instrumental skills are put to work in service of the songs on The Order of Time. (Photo submitted)

Street Sounds: Soul, gospel, and folk gumbo

Singer-songwriter Valerie June lets her imagination loose on her fourth album, The Order of Time

Dean Gordon-Smith

Morning Star columnist

Tennessee born singer-songwriter Valerie June lets her imagination loose on her fourth album, The Order of Time.

June’s gumbo of soul, gospel, and folk effortlessly morphs into her own textural blues sound minus the traditional signposts.

Her multi-instrumental skills are put to work in service of the songs on The Order of Time. Producer Mark Marinelli helps June craft a singular identity with roots that speak of the southern tradition while reaching beyond genres.

Her gospel roots are represented as a churchy soul vibe (If And) that is felt more than heard as a specific source. She isn’t following a tradition other than acting as an artist synthesising a rich regional heritage for all that it can offer.

Songs like Shakedown, a track that sounds like a riffed up version of an old revival hymn, could also be heard as an Appalachian mountain breakdown. The fact that June can’t be pinned down makes her music rich and gives her voice power. She’s a vocal personality who might not stand up against more forceful singers, but this vulnerability isn’t an Achilles heel. Like her music, which is a ringing and textural weave of the southern sound, she’s a presence unto herself.

She writes new music from eternal sounds.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.