"It's been a long night if that's what happened," Valerie June laughs when asked about her seemingly overnight breakout in the UK. By the time she released her debut album, Pushin' Against A Stone, the Tennessee native had already performed on Later… with Jools Holland, sung a stunning duet with Eric Church at the ACM Awards, toured with Jake Bugg, graced spreads in top music and fashion magazines, and earned some of the year's most glowing reviews. But June traveled a long road to the remarkable moment at which she now finds herself.
Though she had fans around the world and musical admirers in high places, June had yet to record a proper studio album of her own. There was no shortage of label interest, but the idea of signing away her music held no appeal, so June took a decidedly modern approach for her studio debut and launched a Kickstarter, where her fans helped her raise more than $15,000.
It was about that time when famed producer Kevin Augunas stepped into June's life. Taken with her music on first listen, he immediately flew to Tennessee to introduce himself. Augunas connected her with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who, unbeknownst to June, was completing work on his Easy Eye Studio in Nashville at the time.
"The intention was to meet him and write some songs," says June. "Songwriting can be like going on a blind date, you don't know what's going to happen, but when we got in the room together, we were on the same page. We really got each other. After two sessions, he said, 'My studio's about to be finished if you want to record some of these and your own.' The music always tells me what to do, and I knew I needed to capture those songs there and then. I had to read the signs."
The result is a stunning studio debut from an artist who's journeyed a long and dusty road, pushing a mighty stone all the way. It's been a long night, but dawn is just breaking for Valerie June.