When you look around at all of the country music that comes out in a year, there’s not a lot that stands out in all of the haze from glittering pop like sounds. Where country music has always shined is when it’s coming from the heart, the kind that you’d hear in a beer joint or a dusty old honky tonk. On The Valley, the new album from Texas’ Charley Crockett, the songs come across like those good old country tunes that many southerners were raised on while standing above the over produced sounds of Nashville.
What makes this album stand out is how Crockett takes his own spin on the genre. The opener “Borrowed Time” has this hand clap that pushes the song along creating a sound that you haven’t heard in country in a long time. Almost like a square dance hootenanny, Crockett’s vocals and the instrumentation pops and stands out. The whole album plays out in a similar fashion. “The Valley” has enough gurguled tones that the mix of pedal steel and traditional guitar create an alluring tone, “Big Gold Mine” is upbeat and snappy while Crockett sings atop it all like an auctioneer and “Excuse Me” check every country and western box with its mixture of Western Swing and honky tonk clusters of sound.
While the record has all of the country moments you’ll expect, there are songs that are ones only Crockett could sing. “5 More Miles” and “10,000 Acres” have a tone in the words that Crockett can bring to the songs that no one else in country can. “River of Sorrow” has this juke joint feel with bluesy underpinnings, “Change Yo’ Mind” hits just right with its slower stride and mosey attitude and “Motel Time Again” has the tale of a touring musician that works well for an artist who’s been on the road for a long time. But aside from all of this, the biggest standout comes on “9 Lb Hammer.” The way Crockett’s vocals stand out above the plucking of a banjo, the words feel very soulful and from a place down deep and the way the song is paced means that the lyrics stay with you for a good while. The whole album is above the herd in terms of country music while showing that artists who steer from the “Nashville sound” can carve a better path by going their own route.
The Valley is available to purchase on various formats directly from Thirty Tigers, it can be streamed on all platforms and purchased digitally wherever you download music. Charley Crockett is on tour starting September 28 at Wildwood Revival in Athens, GA until November 16 at The Rock in Tucson, AZ. His complete tour schedule can be located here.
Image Credits: Photo by Lyza Renee.