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Bjorn And The Sun, Elijah Ocean, Valley Queen At The Bootleg, Monday July 18th 2016


Valley Queen


This was my third time seeing Bjorn and The Sun and on Monday night it seems they had really expanded their sound. They were seven on stage with back up singer and a keyboard, releasing a powerful energy, with some really catchy and uplifting songs and a lot of soul. You can hear a lot of influences in their California-goes-south music, from Dylan to Laurel Canyon harmonies, from blues to soul, frontwoman Amanda Björn has a fresh and great stage presence with a soulful voice, harmonizing with her partner David Donaldson and her back up singer. The music was effervescent, all injected of blues filtering through a sunny and bright pop vibe. It was difficult not to get thrills during their ‘Tennessee’ song, a bluesy gospellic homage to the state where they recorded their debut album ‘Young and Restless’, they played a diverse collection of clap-along, sing-along swamp songs, ‘Woman of Faith’, ‘Blue’, ‘He Let Her Go’, ‘Young and Restless’, and the crowd showed some real love as they had done it before. They called Valley Queen’s Natalie Meadors for a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bring It on Home’ and they totally brought the place down.

Singer songwriter Elijah Ocean was next, but he was already part of Bjorn and the Sun, whereas David Donaldson was back in his band, which was once again a large ensemble, including a pedal steel, a keyboard and an impressive amount of layered guitars. Ocean’s voice had a touch of Warren Zevon-meets-Bruce-Springsteen and his dynamic songs had all the marks of country classics, the type of tunes you understand immediately with acoustic guitars and catchy choruses. The songs combined modern and tradition, sounding a bit like a more country version of Ryan Adams, although he has cited The Beatles, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson as a few of his aspirations. And there was some real action on stage, as the songs often stretched into instrumentals and guitar duels for the joy of everyone on stage. It was American music inspired by highways and the desert — also the titles of the songs he played — with a small dose of nostalgia when he was switching to ballads like ‘Barricade’, but mostly upbeat, and they brought even more joy to the audience with their cover of The Mavericks’ classic ‘All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down’

July is Valley Queen’s residency at the Bootleg, and the crowd got even closer to the stage to better appreciate Natalie Meadors ‘impressive howls. Saying that this woman has a powerful voice would be an understatement, she seemed to incarnate freedom and wilderness, freeing a bunch of power horses when she sang, this truly was music to climb the highest mountains with. The expansive sound could have borrowed to 70’s psychedelia going full scream and full rock at times, bringing a Jefferson Airplane to a Neil Young vibe. Playing barefoot and with the confidence of a queen, this woman was truly letting go something out her chest at each of her wails, captivating everyone with her powerhouse, and the cathartic semi-chaos on stage that would follow with her guitarist and her bassist was truly translating the release of some overwhelming feeling. Valley Queen are working on a full-length album produced by Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR, Superhumanoids, Fool’s Gold, Happy Hollows), and you should certainly not skip this howl.

More pictures here.


Bjorn and The Sun


Elijah Ocean


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