Valerie Miller is the real deal. A self-taught guitarist who has developed a unique finger-picking style that gracefully accompanies her rootsy, spectral tales of temptation, distrust, and ultimately, death. But it’s the ethereal voice of this North Carolina native floating hauntingly over the nine tracks that make up her fourth album which finally persuades you to pull up a rocking chair real close to the fire and bear witness to something special. Recorded and produced solely in her singlewide trailer (purportedly recording some of the vocal tracks in the bath), the sparse arrangements played throughout the album manage to retain the intimate atmosphere of their gestation without ever sounding restricted by circumstance. This is partly due to the excellent local accompaniment by multi-instrumentalist Mike Holstein on a handful of songs such as “Wishful Drinkin’”, where his steel guitar work underscores the melancholy sentiments perfectly, and the ghostly slide-guitar of Woody Wood on the moody opener “Luckiest Angel”. Still, in the end, this album serves as the perfect reminder that you can never underestimate the power of an original voice.
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// Notes from the Road
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