Pushin' Against a Stone

The label debut by Tennessee-to-New York transplant Valerie June is a remarkably braided album of roots music, connecting country, string band, gospel, blues and R&B traditions so fluently, it's like the racially cleaved styles never needed connecting. Dan Auerbach adds his signature crate-digger production and guitar sizzle, but back-porch-y tunes like "Somebody to Love," with Luca Kézdy's delicious fiddle, are no less rousing than the juke-jointy ones. Credit June's vinegary, slightly oddball vocals, equal parts Diana Ross and Dolly Parton, which guide each song like an old tractor retrofit with LED high beams: luminous, ancient, unstoppable.

From The Archives Issue 1195: November 7, 2013
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