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w/ Sunny War
The latest full-length from Valerie June, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers emerged from a long-awaited revelation on the part of the Tennessee-bred singer/songwriter. “With this record, it finally became clear why I have this dream of making music,” June says of her third album for Fantasy Records. “It’s not for earthly reasons of wanting to be awarded or to win anybody’s love—it’s because dreaming keeps me inquisitive and keeps me on that path of learning what I have to share with the world. I think when we allow ourselves to dream like we did when we were kids, it ignites the light that we all have within us, and helps us to have a sort of magic about the way we live.”
The follow-up to her widely adored The Order of Time—a 2017 effort that earned the admiration of Bob Dylan and landed on best-of-the-year lists from the likes of Rolling Stone and the New York Times— The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers is a potent catalyst for that kind of magic. With her spellbinding vocals and infectious sense of wonder, June gently eases the listener into a far more charmed state of mind, one that quickly restores a powerful feeling of joyful possibility.
Produced by June and Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend), The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers achieves that transcendent effect thanks in no small part to the splendor of its sound, an exquisitely composed tapestry of folk, soul, gospel, country, blues, psychedelia, and time-bending symphonic pop. In bringing the album to life, June and Splash stayed true to the spirit of wide-eyed exploration by working with an eclectic lineup of esteemed musicians, absorbing themselves in a prolonged period of free-flowing experimentation and playing with a magnificently vast palette of instruments (flute and banjo, mbira and Mellotron, saxophone and synth, to name just a few). The result is a selection of songs both ornate and elegant, each moment crafted with a profound awareness of what’s most essential in creating enduring beauty.
Though the shapeshifting textures of The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers prove infinitely mesmerizing, the album’s most enchanting element is June’s vocal presence, the extraordinary and often breathtaking sound of someone pouring her whole heart into every note. At turns ethereal and gritty, ferocious and fragile, June’s vocals possess a certain transformative quality, instantly melting away the chaos of the everyday and leaving only the immutable glow of absolute truth.
Infusing each line of The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers with her warmly delivered insight, June narrates the long and precarious journey toward realizing a dream. “Any dream is going to be work, and you have to be willing to put in that time and effort to go the long path,” she says. “There’s a lot of failing and rising and twists and turns, but dreaming itself can also be a strengthening force that we can all tap into.” One of many songs graced with a lavish string arrangement from Lester Snell (Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Solomon Burke), “Stay” opens the album with a piano-laced rhapsody urging listeners to carve out “their own personal space to dream freely,” as June puts it.
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