Friday Five: Valerie June
Valerie June’s utterly irresistible music fits in the sweet spot of a Dolly Parton-Elizabeth Cotten-Mississippi John Hurt-Erykah Badu Venn diagram. Her new album, Pushin’ Against the Stone–produced by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Peter Sabak, and Kevin Augunas, and featuring guest artists like Booker T. Jones, and recorded in Nashville, Van Nuys, and Hungary–combines June’s myriad musical influences into a fantastic collection of music. We recently caught up with the singer-songwriter while she was on tour in Europe and asked her about the five songs that inspired her while she was working on Pushin’ Against a Stone. She gladly obliged, and even posed a challenge to E145 readers.
A friend sent me Karen Dalton’s music because he said I’d probably love her voice. True enough, her haunting space between each note on this tune continues to inspire me. The story is really great too.
4. Ali Farka Touré – “Ali’s Here”
I honestly don’t know what happened when I got in the room with producer Peter Sabak and the Hungarian musicians, but it was otherworldly and magical from the start. I really feel they brought a world music sound to the “Workin’ Woman Blues.” After listening to it with them, it really reminded me of Ali Farka Touré or Fela Kuti. Totally roots music!
3. E.C. & Orna Ball – “Jenny Jenkins”
Dan and I decided to cover “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” after a night of listening to records. He had made us a steak dinner. We just hung out in his living room listening to records. I knew he and I were drawing from the same well musically, but when he started pulling out records and we both knew the lyrics to rare tunes word for word, I felt like we could definitely take that bond into “Easy Eye” and do some major damage.
2. Jessie Mae Hemphill – “Eagle Bird”
“You Can’t Be Told” would not be nearly as fierce without the lyrics talking about the eagle bird. It could have been a robin or a cardinal, but there’s something that sang “eagle bird” to me when we were writing this tune. I have to believe it was a trace of Jessie Mae’s spirit whispering in my ear.
“Tennessee Time” takes a line from my first love, Mississippi John Hurt. See if you can find the shared line and write me a note on Facebook with the answer!
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...
- Jim Z: Dirty River Boys are from El Paso, Texas.