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Pushin' Against A Stone

4.7 out of 5 stars 211 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 13, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Valerie June brings an eclectic mix of folk, soul, Appalachian, bluegrass, blues and gospel to her unique sound. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter from Jackson, Tennessee, Valerie honed her sound in the vibrant Memphis atmosphere. The majority of her debut album, Pushin Against a Stone, was produced by Kevin Augunas (Florence & the Machine, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys with the track Workin Woman Blues produced by Peter Sabak in Budapest. Pushin Against a Stone will be released in August through Concord Music Group.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Workin Woman Blues
  2. Somebody To Love
  3. The Hour
  4. Twined & Twisted
  5. Wanna Be On Your Mind
  6. Tennessee Time
  7. Pushin Against A Stone
  8. Trials, Troubles, Tribulations
  9. You Cant Be Told
  10. Shotgun
  11. On My Way


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 13, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Records
  • ASIN: B00C061I1M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,612 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Recently there has been a plethora of neo-folk bands and solo singers that have all started to sound the same. Throw in some hand clapping with a little banjo and a group of people shouting the chorus, and it's automatically "real" and serious music. It's only when comparing some of these bands and singers to the real deal when it becomes clear how average and dull they are. Valerie June is the real deal. She has this music deep in her Jackson, Tennessee born soul. It's not forced or contrived. It's not pop music trying to hide under a few strands of double bass. It's quite frankly some of the best modern fusion folk music to have come from this whole modern folk movement.

Let's start with Valerie's voice. Astonishingly unique and instantly identifiable. Part Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Dolly Parton yet all Valerie. On the more upbeat songs, it tends to go rather flatly stylized very reminiscent of early 1940s folk bands like the Carter Family or Hank Williams. On the softer songs, her tone is simply flawless showing much more range and a real talent for finding the groove to a song. Genuine and heartfelt, it makes me feel like home.

The music is really something special as well. It's not merely borrowing an occasional twang--it is unapologetic folk music. Albeit folk music that has been influenced by the delta blues, Southern spirituals and jazz. In Valerie's own words: "It's moonshine roots music." Produced by Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, ZZ Ward) and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, this album has just enough modern sensibilities to make it much more accessible than old 1920s recordings of traditional Appalachian music.
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I recently went to the U.K., and created an itunes account while I was there. This was available in their store in April, and this week they offered one of her songs as the "free single of the week". Amazing that I had to go to another continent to find out about an artist who is from Tennessee, just up the road from where I live. I believe she is going to set the music world on fire. There is something about the way she looks, coupled with the honesty and pureness of her music that just captivates. It's twangy, bluesy, and even has shades of Winehouse in there as well. I'm really glad Amazon is making the "on demand" cd-r of this album available, since the album doesn't drop here until August. The sound is great, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves discovering a new artist who's blossoming--before the rest of the world catches on. She is definitely one to watch. Google her, and check out the youtube video introducing this album. I suspect she is a huge star in the making. She's certainly stirring things up in the U.K.
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When describing this album to a friend I said that Valerie June is the female
counterpart to Otis Taylor--blending to various degrees Jazz, Soul, Folk, Rock
and Blues into a united "rootsie" whole. If the first song (Workin' Woman blues)on Ms. June's new album was played by Otis Taylor with his daughter
Cassie singing you would not argue that it was one of his compositions and
arrangements, especially with the lovely horn work. With further listening
though you find some distinct differences--in some songs there is a decidedly
"garage rock" sound that you don't really find in Otis Taylor's music.
Dan Auerbach's production and guitar work seems to have had a lot to do
with the brilliance and character of this record, his gritty production
seems to perfectly balance Valerie's pure childlike voice and add real spice
to her sometimes simple, stark songs. Let's hope they do a few albums together as
this one has been stuck in my CD player since I got it. All the songs are great,
I especially find the title song, The Hour and Shotgun to be masterful.
It is good to see people like Ms. June, Otis
Taylor, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cold Specks etc. bring some
earthiness back to and not be embarrassed by their esthetically important musical heritage-- they are actually bringing something vital and fresh into the "retro
roots" mix. Buy this CD!
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This is a great release that's hard to stop listening to. It is totally unique. I caught Valerie June playing banjo at a Memphis club a few years ago and was knocked out. She was unique in appearance, had a voice to match, and she was playing blues on a banjo. Her voice reminded me of Jessie Mae Hemphill's -- old and wise, but childlike too. When we talked about her music, she revealed a great enthusiasm for the American roots musicians she had learned from. I bought her solo CD off the bandstand and have listened to it a lot since then. With "Pushing Against A Stone" Valerie June has taken a giant leap toward landing a unique place in music. Much the way Bob Dylan did with "Highway 61 Revisited", remaining himself while wrapping his music up in a package unlike any heard before, June has done the same with her new release. Her melodies would be beautiful alone, but the arrangements add luscious textures -- strange sounding fuzz guitars, ethereal vocal doubling and echoes, horns, percussion and banjo that all combine to create a general feeling that you have gone back in time in some futuristic way. What does that mean? It means the release will surely grab your ears. Buy it.
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