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Val Storey Releases Sophomore Album

Val Storey is representative of a new breed of female Nashville singers who are unencumbered by stylistic straitjackets. Rather than hidebound to country or Americana music, their far-reaching forays into the 20th-century songbook cross genre lines while retaining an internal consistency that becomes a hallmark of their art. Storey’s sophomore album release Share Your Secrets with Me features thirteen songs that touch on familiar Nashville sounds as penned by iconic figures such as Larry Cordle (also the album’s producer), Emmylou Harris, Del McCoury, and Nanci Griffith, but has the necessary boldness to touch on pop songwriters such as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and even Hoagy Carmichael. She sounds at home with each of these disparate styles and makes the material her own through sheer talent and personality.

Songs such as the album opener “Songbird” make that clear. It’s a stunning way to begin the album as it highlights nearly all of the elements of her voice that make her so attractive. Her vocal phrasing tailors itself to the song’s needs with eloquent effortlessness that makes the performance sound born rather than crafted. She follows this opener with an equally moving rendition of Nanci Griffith’s “Love at the Five and Dime” which revisits this sterling classic for modern audiences with high style. She doesn’t allow herself even a second to coast. It’s an unmitigated pleasure to hear how completely she integrates herself into the song’s world.

Del McCoury’s “I Feel the Blues Movin’ In” turns listeners in a different direction. She’s just as home with the language of the blues as she is with country and other Americana styles. The song’s slide guitar acts as an effective duet “partner” for her voice, and she incorporates enough gravel and grit into her singing to make for a dramatic artistic union. “Skylark” is another head-turning 180 as she delves into Hoagy Carmichael’s back catalog for a spirited heavyweight performance of this early 20th-century pop classic. Her voice reaches unparalleled heights here and wrings every available emotional drop out of the song.

“Less of Me” is one of the album’s finest examples of songwriting. She revives the Glen Campbell classic and its timeless lessons for us with considerable verve and sensitivity to the song’s demands. It has one of the album’s finest lyrics, words that everyone can relate to. The sprightly musical accompaniment gives it additional bounce. “Midnight Fire” is another cover, this time turning to Steve Wariner’s work, and she hits the mark with a sleek and impassioned take on the country legend’s classic.

Share Your Secrets with Me is rife with songs such as this. You will not find any filler. Val Storey has considered the material included on the album with a sharp artistic eye and ear and her choices pay off with one of 2023’s most satisfying releases. Her skills as a vocalist, songwriter, and performer are on full display over the course of the album’s thirteen songs and it leaves you a little in awe of where she can go next. 

Mindy McCall



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