Written By: Hayley Mierzwa
Waking up this past Sunday morning and starting my day with this wonderfully mellow country album was a serious treat. The Whiskey Charmers new record The Valley is the sophomore album for the Detroit-based group, led by Carrie Shepard and Lawrence Daversa. Many fans compare this group’s sound to a top-down ride through the desert, but with a heavy dose of 2-and-4 accents and some variety in the gait, I found it to be more of a gallop through the Wild West.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the first track off this album is entitled “Desert,” which offers an immediate introduction into the style of the entire record – sweet female vocals with support male harmonies in all parts of the song, not just the chorus. Contrast that with the rocking percussive intro to the title track, The Valley, and you know things have yet to settle.
“Melody,” the softest track so far brings in a wonderful slide guitar solo, something that will be featured, notably, in “Meet Me There” and “Warnings” as well. “Meet Me There” is where the 2-and-4 snare hits start to come in, and they will be present for five of the seven remaining songs on the record. This is perhaps my only harsh criticism of this record – shake up the beats a bit! This particular beat gets a bit “jammier” in the track “Full Moon,” and disappears for “Red Wine” and “Warnings.” Two additional, pleasurable sound bits to look out for are the organ long tones in “Songbird,” and the growly guitar lines in “Coal.”
Layered in with this variety of sounds are the forlorn lyrics. You get the sense that the voice of the song (perhaps not always Carrie herself) is struggling with some past emotional difficulties. In “Melody,” she softly says, “Hope you don’t mind the state I’m in,” as if she believes she is not currently doing well. “And where there’s smoke there’s fire / I’m hanging on the line / I’m running out of time,” an urgent lyric in “Fireproof,” and “Wherever we meet there’s a warning,” a cautious line from “Warnings,” suggest a cause for that sentiment from “Melody.” Perhaps the most relatable lyric I came across was from “Red Wine,” “Maybe I’ll find/ you in the bottom of my glass of red wine,” which seems to be a feeling many of-age listeners can relate to.
Overall, a lyrically accessible and consistent record. While I myself may have overdosed on the 2-and-4 accented beats, they bring an overwhelming sense of moving forward to the album, perhaps up and out of The Valley of sadness and/or frustration apparent in the tracks.