Valerie June, ‘Pushin’ Against a Stone’

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Aidin Vaziri | Valerie June’s mesmerizing voice sounds as if it’s been soaked in moonshine and coated with sawdust. On “Pushin’ Against a Stone,” her first widely available release, the Tennessee-born singer-songwriter pairs it wonderfully with strains of gospel, folk and Appalachian tunes. Her songs sound like relics from another era. With an assist from Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and producer Kevin Augunas, who has worked with Florence and the Machine and Edward Sharpe, June slips freely through genre lines while her bluesy pipes drive bittersweet songs such as “Somebody to Love” and the album’s chiming single, “Wanna Be on Your Mind.” Booker T. Jones, meanwhile, contributes mournful piano to “On My Way” – the loveliest song about death you’re likely to hear all year.

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