For a while there, it seemed as though the Valet name would be lost to us. After all, songwriter Honey Owens spent a fruitful six years exploring psychedelic house music as part of the well-regarded Miracles Club project.
The arrival of her first child, however, seemed to spark a re-alignment of sorts. Out went the sampler, and in came the guitar with Honey Owens returning to her roots in the Bay Area DIY scene.
‘Nature’ is the result. A return to the Valet moniker, and a return to the fractured, spectral compositions which first made her name, it’s an album which thrives on pastoral passages and longs for sheer, uncomplicated beauty.
Opening track ‘Sunday’ has a downcast sense of bliss, a contagious lethargy that seems spiral endlessly out of the speaker. Title cut ‘Nature’ has an almost folk-like feel, with the chirruping backing vocals matched against a graceful waltz in the time signature.
Oddly psychedelic, ‘Signs’ and ‘Lion’ have that bleached out West Coast feel, but whereas this is so often accomplished with a wastrel, clichéd rock ‘n’ roll vision Valet seems to long for the personal. Effects are keep simple, guitars are kept unadorned – ‘Nature’ is a record that feels natural.
Sparse throughout, the interlocking passages have a hypnotising impact, building up into beautifully ornate but hugely delicate structures. Nowhere is this more clear than on final track ‘Child’ - little more than ringing guitars, reverb-soaked effects and washed out vocals, Honey Owens nails a certain atmosphere of innocence, of sleep-fuelled bliss.
It’s difficult not to draw autobiographical comparisons; to the impact motherhood has had on Owens’ art. Much more than a mere return to familiar climes, ‘Nature’ allows Valet to re-define familiar landscapes, to look anew at certain influences. A bold, kaleidoscopic funnel of sound, Valet's rich return is worthy of celebration.
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