MAGNET’s #18 Album Of 2017: Valerie June’s “The Order Of Time”

Valerie June takes her time and doesn’t give away too much of herself, but she fills The Order Of Time with a lifetime’s worth of experience: being born, falling in love, forming a family, falling apart. Her voice—by turns girlish and womanly, wistful and wise—touches the heart where it is, where it is unspoiled, where it is tender, where it is broken, where it is scarred but yearning to open again. On the clear-eyed “Love You Once Made,” June condenses a marriage into one moment; on “Shakedown,” with its relatively raucous electric guitars and keyboards, she makes an urgent desire feel like it could last indefinitely. Though her guitar and banjo are frequently buried beneath layers of horns and strings, there’s no tension or distinction between country and jazz here; like Norah Jones, who contributes backing vocals on a couple of tracks, June disregards artificial boundaries between genres. As the Tennessee native sings on gently rollicking album closer “Got Soul,” “I could sing you a country tune … I could play you the blues.” Of course, by then, any listener can tell the transcendent truth, and the chorus confirms it in word and deed: “But I got soul/I got sweet, soul, soul.” —M.J. Fine

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