Some voices are instantly calming, transporting you to the heavens, letting you drift away from the worry of the world below. On her new album ‘The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers’, Valerie June invites us to take a trip on her cloud, singing us healing messages of hope and positivity.
On her last album The Order of Time, Valerie created a new and distinctive kind of roots music, which felt almost transcendental in its vision. That album was one of the first I ever reviewed and the positive feedback I received after sharing her music really helped to build my confidence as a blogger. There’s something powerful, spiritual even, about how music can connect us all. This new album arrives four years later and is again the most welcome gift for the spirit. I didn’t know how much I really needed the restorative power of its music and message until I sat down and heard it from start to finish.
Valerie describes opening song ‘Stay’ as being about the ‘impermanence and beauty of all that we witness everyday’. Love can never last either, but she celebrates it anyway. You and I is a reminder to connect with others and with our inner self too. I hope you feel it, she asks us and if you didn’t then maybe you need to listen again. The stunning ‘Colors’ and ‘Fallin’ are rootsy in sound and grounded in truths. Her voice is always angelic and never more so on these two songs.
This leads us into the spoken word African proverb intro to ‘Call Me a Fool‘, read by soul legend Carla Thomas, which tells us that ‘Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.’ Valerie turns this on its head, defies the fear and uncertainty of the warning by declaring ‘I’d be a fool anytime’, roaring it out with pride. She jumps in to the song with gusto and a little grit in her usually heavenly voice. It’s a revelation.
Smile takes this further reminding us ‘If you never leap / Then your heart won’t know’, asserting it was ‘worth the fall’. She takes the risks, goes with her heart and her dreams. On the gorgeous ‘Why the Bright Stars Glow’ she admits ‘it’s impossible to say ‘I’’ declaring her love to be collective, connective. Together we all walk in the light. As birdsong plays the album out you can’t help but sigh in hopeful happiness while you flip the album over to hear it all again.
Some may scoff at some of the magical, new age, hippie, guru elements of her aesthetic but maybe those are the people who need this kind of music the most. Cynics, depressives, pessimists etc gather round, take your medicine and be transformed into dreamers again. With Valerie June at the helm we’ll all float on okay.