(Independent) Named after her hometown nestled in the Chattahoochee Valley region, Julianna Money’s first full-length album, In the Valley, explores finding an authentic path, becoming more comfortable within a queer identity and always returning to the concept of home. This reconciliation between identity and place is best represented by “Desert Mountains,” a wistfully haunting melody that subtly imbues several of the Western genre’s signature qualities—the rhythm of a horse’s gait, around-the-campfire storytelling, romanticized lonesomeness—but is written from a perspective firmly rooted in the musical legacy of Appalachian folk and country. Conversely, “27” quietly confronts the passage of time and perpetual growing pains not limited to existential dread and an unknowable future. It draws a parallel with Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”—a rumination on the seasons of life written when Stevie Nicks was 28—ultimately arriving at the present to say that “life is in this moment.” With simple instrumentation that never distracts, the album successfully shows off Money’s rare vocal ability, as on the see-sawing stand-out dark pop melody “Pretty Words,” or on “Shrug,” in which her low, bluesy whisper effortlessly climbs the stairs of a scale within the next breath.
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