Album Reviews

Valley Maker’s When I Was A Child

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Valley Maker’s When I Was A Child | Not an album review

Get ready to feel something.

[I struggle with writing this; this is not an album review. It is not a play by play of songs. It is not a summary of lyrics or an analysis of musical denotation. Somehow, like the album itself, this is something else entirely.]

Valley Maker has recently released When I Was A Child and I had the immense pleasure to have a few weeks with the album before it was released. I regarded it as a treasure, as if it were mine and only mine, as if every single part of it were tailored directly for me. I spent time with it, eyes closed in a dim room with wood panel walls, a slight breeze pushing against the window; evening drives in early fall with the windows down, a special sparseness in both the back roads I found myself driving down and the music created by songwriter Austin Crane. I bathed myself in the album’s songs. I let them blanket me when I laid down to sleep and had them greet me in the morning and send me into the day with an unarticulated truth that only I could understand because it was my truth. These are more than songs.

When I first sat down to write the Valley Maker album review I began thinking about why we as human beings are drawn to music, why we all listen. It’s an unanswerable question, really. Sure, we can point to our need for connection, we can mention the necessity of expression or—and this one’s the stretchiest stretch of them all—the joy we all experience in making/listening to music. But it’s more than that. It’s something unspeakable. There is a holiness in music (some music more than other) and like all things holy, it’s magnetic.

I’ve never met Austin. I’ve seen him perform a time or two, I know a few people who know him. We might even be Facebook friends (we’re not, I checked, but we totally could be maybe I think). And I’ve been listening to his music for a good while now beginning with the 2010 release that explored the story of Genesis. But after spending a few weeks with When I Was A Child I not only know Austin, I am him. What he has created with this album is something called tone—

Quick digression into the meaning of tone and how it is being used in context: tone portrays a variety of emotions and serves as a way of connecting an audience with a speaker’s (in this case Austin Crane’s) feelings, beliefs, opinions, questions regarding certain situations, topics, et cetera.

—and this tone saturates every experience I’ve ever had. I’m not only listening to the songs, I’m singing them, I’m trusting every word to the point that they’re my own words, words I’ve found myself saying before. Maybe not every exact word, but the meaning that they convey. There is uncertainty in each song, the same kind of uncertainty that we all know intimately. And by listening to these songs we are being forced to confront our questions, not looking for answers but for understanding as to why the questions are even asked at all.

With the turning of the seasons approaching, the death of winter, the stripping away, the rebirth, Valley Maker has given us a glimmering source of comfort in When I Was A Child. Let this album pull you into it, let it knock your world off its axis just enough for you to see inside yourself. It’s worth it, I promise.

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