Heather Valley is a new name to us but she has one of those voices that sinks deep like plush velvet and a smooth whisky. It’s intimate and golden in tone and on ‘Lovejoy’ she frames the song beautifully with pedal steel and a rhythm section that’s right in the pocket. Citing her influences as Jason Molina, Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co., Cat Power, Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron, you can hear how she’s been able to successfully blend those Americana, indie and folk sounds into her own style. She’s even joined by Molina associate, pedal steel player Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, on her brand-new LP Desert Message.
Valley has an interesting back story according to her bio:
“Like every good story, this one starts with a broken heart. What sets it apart is that it also involves a con man, a demon, and an imposter who my place,” explains Heather Valley, a musician based in Hamilton, Ontario.
Valley was a self-made lawyer with a promising future when the con man found her. They bonded over a shared love of Americana, especially the music of Jason Molina, then met for a week in a haunted cabin in upstate New York. They fell in love and made plans to be together, but when he went back to Florida, everything went wrong. A sudden admission of addiction, an intervention, committals to rehab, escapes and devastating benders impeded his efforts to return. He became obsessed with the idea that a demon inhabited the cabin, and that it had attached itself to him. They eventually reunited in a rough Buffalo neighbourhood called Lovejoy. The story of that reunion and the heartbreak that would come next is depicted in the eponymous song “Lovejoy,” released as a first single from the album:
“You took me up to your room and gave me gifts you had stolen. How’d you get your crooked smile to look so even?” – Lovejoy
It wasn’t until he was arrested at the border in front of her that she discovered the truth. He was a fugitive from justice from Louisiana carrying on multiple lives. The most devastating was the Other Heather. “He found another woman with my name who looked like me to take my place,” Valley explains. He went to jail but came back swearing what they had was real. He flew her down to Florida. They were engaged. But she couldn’t tell fact from fiction and he lied with a straight face. When she left, it broke her heart. He messaged her obsessively swearing his love was true. Within eight months she had a nervous breakdown, left her job on doctor’s orders, and he was arrested again. She turned to music to heal.