Valerie June at The 100 Club
All the way from the Deep South, Memphis, Tennessee, Valerie June took to the stage at The 100 Club, Oxford Street, to embrace the audience with an intimate performance of stunning vocal prowess and foot-stomping blues-soul.
June describes her genre as “organic moonshine roots music,” which seems suitable when you hear it. Her iconic Southern drawl is at the core of her sound, captivating as she sings about her travels and her home across the pond. Closing your eyes during her performance transports you to a Tennessee veranda where you can picture her singing soulfully and playing a beaten up, twanging guitar while the hot sun sets behind.
Her instrument choices are predominantly guitar and banjo, both of which are played exquisitely. When the banjo was picked up for Somebody to Love, it set the tone for the expressive song, but later brought a barn-stomping rendition of an old Muddy Waters song Rollin’ and Tumblin’. The banjo sound tech unfortunately melted down at the end of the latter, but June, in true live performing spirit, finished a capella with a supportive beat clapped by the enthusiastic crowd.
June is also a talented guitarist, and the scratchy feel of the guitar strums are a great partner to her voice. Her vocal is never overshadowed, and it’s allowed to shine with the guitar often played down. These vocal breakdowns are the most awe-inspiring moments of her performance, and it’s inspiring to hear a fresh sounding voice, oozing with soul and gospel tones, a world apart from most other vocal focused artists.
Her band joined her on stage to perform the more upbeat numbers; brass, strings, percussion and back-up singer filled the venue with a rambunctious Southern noise. These songs were some of the highlights of the night, with performances of Workin’ Woman Blues (lamenting a woman’s life in a male-dominated world), and the fantastic You Can’t Be Told (her latest single with a catchy chorus that’s begging to be heard by the masses).
Valerie June is a truly unique artist, and it’s a pleasure to hear a brand new sound in the UK from somewhere out of the ordinary. With great music and amazing vocals to boot, Valerie June’s performance was spellbinding.
For further information and future events visit Valerie June’s website here.
Watch the video for You Can’t Be Told here: