Charley Crockett didn’t know how long he had to live when he recorded The Valley. Now that the Texas singer-songwriter has come out the other side, he’s preparing to release the 15-song LP this fall, previewing it with two new songs and a music video for “Borrowed Time.”
Cut last January at Fort Horton Studios in Wildwood, Texas, outside Beaumont, Crockett was one week away from the first of two life-saving heart surgeries when he entered the studio. That sense of life-or-death clarity is palpable on “Borrowed Time,” a song cowritten with Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker, in which he lays his cards on the table for love and honest living. With a jaunty, fiddle-laden melody that’s as much Appalachia as South Texas, and a vocal accompaniment from Brennen Leigh, it sees Crockett’s typically rough and raspy singing taking on a smooth, peaceful croon.
More overtly autobiographical is “The Valley,” which details Crockett’s troubled youth growing up in San Benito, down in the Rio Grande Valley, and later Dallas. The somber ballad, colored by the pedal steel work of Nathan Fleming, sees Crockett assessing his own hardships in search of a silver lining. “I needed to have these songs in case I didn’t get through. I needed them just to tell people my story. To show folks what I’ve been through in life,” Crockett says in a statement. Accompanying the new songs’ release is a music video for “Borrowed Time,” which was directed by Crockett himself and shot by David Wilson in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Co-produced by Crockett, Jay Moeller, and Billy Horton, The Valley — his second collection of originals since joining Thirty Tigers and first release since Lil G.L.’s Blues Bonanza from last December — drops on September 20th. Fresh off his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, Crockett makes his Newport Folk Festival debut this Friday, July 26th, in Newport, Rhode Island.
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The full track listing for Charley Crockett’s The Valley:
1. “Borrowed Time” (Crockett, Evan Felker)
2. “The Valley” (Crockett)
3. “5 More Miles” (Crockett)
4. “Big Gold Mine” (Crockett)
5. “10,000 Acres” (Crockett)
6. “The Way I’m Livin’” (Crockett, A. Sanchez)
7. “7 Come 11” (Vincent Neil Emerson)
8. “If Not the Fool” (Crockett)
9. “Excuse Me” (H. Howard, B. Owens)
10. “It’s Nothing to Me” (Pat Patterson)
11. “Maybelle” (Crockett)
12. “9 LB. Hammer” (trad. arr. by Crockett)
13. “River of Sorrow” (Crockett, K. Madrigal)
14. “Change Yo’ Mind” (Crockett)
15. “Motel Time” (Bobby Bare, Crockett, Sanchez, Fuchs)