Australian Duo, Valley Road, Release Debut Single 'The Wind Blew West' From Upcoming Debut Album
By Stevie Connor.
Valley Road’s debut single 'The Wind Blew West' is an emotive tale of maternal hardship and strength, with a gently sprawling musical quality that simultaneously evokes wide open roads and domestic confinement.
Rebecca Jane Howell's lilting vocal melody contrasts with Marty Mckenna's baritone harmonies, and is carried along by interwoven guitar and banjo, subtle percussion and bass, and some sweet fiddle flourishes. The song was produced by acclaimed producer Rod McCormack, best known for his work in the country realm, who also contributed guitar and banjo on the track, while the fiddle was played by Gabi Blisset of the Bushwhackers.
Rebecca says, "It's a deeply personal song, about my brave Mama, and the dark days she went through when my dad left her while she was pregnant with me. I wrote it years ago, during a period of serious writer's block, and it all just sort of poured out of me, as though it needed to be written. My mum still finds it hard to hear, but I think she's also really proud of it."
Valley Road winds through rolling basalt hills, connecting two friends, Rebecca Jane Howell and Marty Mckenna, who have been singing together for over a decade. They weave their experiences into songs of people and place (usually sitting around Marty’s farmhouse kitchen table), bringing an Australian perspective to their diverse folk influences.
Rebecca could sing before she could speak, and honed her instinct for harmony through years spent in the Australian Girls Choir. She switched her city upbringing for an off-grid life in the Central Victorian bush, where she is inspired every day by the natural world around her. Marty grew up singing to the sheep on his family farm, with his dad, where he still tends the flock to this day. The farm provides a perfect setting for the duo to explore their shared love of intricate song-craft.
When Valley Road take to the stage, their years of friendship and singing together shine through, drawing listeners into their rich inner worlds through their contrasting yet perfectly suited voices and delicate guitar playing.
The pair won a Troubadour Foundation Award after enchanting the crowd at the 2022 Burke and Wills Folk Festival, and have recently recorded their first album together on the Central Coast of NSW with acclaimed producer Rod McCormack (to be released in 2023).
“Listening to Valley Road’s debut album is like finding a patch of shade from the relentless burning sun. It has a restful, quiet beauty that invites you to linger. Their gentle harmonies weave stories of people and places that seem from another time. It's a distilled kind of beauty. A gently plucked guitar, a simple fiddle line and sweet melodies showcase the essence of their sound.” - Vikki Thorn, The Waifs
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