Written by: Ahya Kamal
Austin Crane, the man behind Valley Maker, brings us ‘Rhododendron’, his latest work, released October 12th. It’s his first collaboration with Frenchkiss Records, produced with Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi) and Trevor Spencer (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes) and recorded in Portland, Oregon. The project can best be described as an eclectic collection of modern folk songs – perfect for rainy days and long commutes or road trips. The mix of country twangs with electronic synths provide the strong groundwork for his lyrical metaphors.
Fans will recognize that the spiritual motifs and thoughtful reflections in the album are similar to his past work, ‘When I Was a Child’, and can be considered a continuation of sorts. The mellow tunes reflect the South Carolina native’s spiritual thoughts on changes from his upbringing, his faith wavering and the wonder of life itself. Valley Maker experiments with different rhythmic sounds, apparent especially in “Light On The Ground”, the second song on ‘Rhododendron’. Similarly, on “Beautiful Birds Flying,” the piano rivets the listener.
The most obvious lyrical theme conveyed in the ten tracks is one of movement, whether a change physical location or emotional changes which reflect Crane’s PhD background Human Geography and the time when the album was written, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. While Crane moved around for his research, he explored the concept of sharing space while politicians continued to echo the sentiment of exclusion. Despite being sonically sturdy, the whispered vocals force the listener to strain their ears to hear the messages being conveyed.
The sophomore album showcases Valley Maker’s level of comfort in the folk genre, and will cater to troubled souls who want to gradually make a change but are unsure how. Crane’s poetic relatability and soothing voice draw the listener in and make them want to continue to pay attention to him.
Buy the album here! Currently on tour, see if Valley Maker is making a stop in your city here. Keep up-to-date with all things Valley Maker by checking out the website, instagram, facebook, twitter, youtube and spotify. Watch below for the newest released music video from this album called ‘Beautiful Birds Flying’.