High Valley may have only broken through to the mainstream in 2016 with the US re-release of Make You Mine but the band has been together for the past decade. Originally starting out as a trio the band consisted of Curtis, Brad and Bryan Rempel. After three independent albums together, High Valley became a duo when Bryan departed the band in 2014. Following the release of their fourth album County Line, High Valley signed a major label deal with Atlantic / Warner Nashville. Their first album under that deal is Dear Life, which was released in the US in 2016 and in the UK earlier this year.
Make You Mine was the perfect introduction to High Valley for those that hadn’t followed the band during their independent years. The song marries a Mumford & Sons-esque beat with traditional Country and folk rhythms. It also has a hook that is so damn catchy, it’s no surprise that the song has enjoyed the longevity it has. Originally Make You Mine featured on High Valley’s fourth album County Line, as did current US single She’s With Me.
Dear Life maintains High Valley’s sound, keeping traditional rhythms and melodies at the heart of every song. Producers Seth Mosley and Mike ‘X’ O’Connor have worked their magic on the songs, giving them a more commercial edge that ensures Country radio play them. When I spoke to Brad earlier this year, he opened up about the challenges of keeping the band’s distinctive sound while adding a slightly more pop feel to the mix. In my opinion the material across Dear Life is some of the strongest that High Valley has recorded yet.
There’s a fair amount of variety on Dear Life. Those who prefer their Country more traditional will love Roads We’ve Never Taken, one of the highlights on the set, while those who like euphoric modern Country will instantly take to the soaring Memory Makin’. I Ain’t Changin’ feels like a moment of reassurance from the band to their fans that they’re still the same High Valley they’ve always known and loved.
Young Forever brings Dear Life to a close and it’s the kind of song that was made to be performed live. I still remember seeing High Valley performing it at C2C: Country to Country in 2016 and it has such an anthem-like quality that it’s the perfect end to a rousing collection of great songs.
My favourite moment on the record comes on the slow-building but soaring I Be U Be. The band recently released a bonus video for the track and it’s a song that should definitely be a worldwide single before the album campaign comes to a close. It’s one of the folkier moments on the record and it begs you to sing along with it. One listen and you’ll be singing it loud and proud.
High Valley is one of the most exciting rising bands in Country music. Before Dear Life came out, I knew the brothers could put on one hell of a live show (they were so good I watched them twice!) and with this album they’ve proved they have the music to back the hype up. High Valley offer something different from the contemporary Country radio sound and hopefully other artists will follow their lead and get back to the true roots of the genre.
Track listing: 1. She’s With Me 2. Dear Life 3. I Ain’t Changin’ 4. Make You Mine 5. Don’t Stop 6. The Only 7. Roads We’ve Never Taken 8. I Be U Be 9. Memory Makin’ 10. Soldier 11. Young Forever Record Label: Atlantic / Warner Nashville Release Date: 3rd March 2017