High Valley, the duo comprised of brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel, released their debut full-length album Dear Life last Friday. The project that spawned their hit lead single “Make You Mine” is swimming in banjo-fueled bluegrass influence (likely a result of their rural Alberta, Canada, upbringing) but is also heavily sprinkled with modern pop hooks and radio-ready production. Dear Life coats tried-and-true themes – hometowns, girls, hometown girls, kudzu vines, and road trips – with a fresh layer of upbeat production.
With punchy lyrics and soaring harmonies backed by rolling banjo, lighthearted guitar, Dear Life is a cohesive, well-executed collection of songs. They’ve found their sound and are sticking to it, which makes for a strong – if not the most sonically diverse – debut project. The constant, foot-tapping tempo and loud production are at times overdone – a fault only because the smart lyrics are overpowered. From heartfelt romantic messages on tracks like “She’s With Me” and “Make You Mine,” to empowering anthems like “Don’t Stop” and “Soldier,” the songwriting is solid throughout and the delivery is always on beat.
Standouts from the project include the title track “Dear Life,” a fresh take on the classic idea of slowing down time and living to the fullest. “Life” is cleverly personified, and the lyrics play on the main phrase: “Dear life, how’s it look?” vs. “I’m hanging on for dear life.” The title track was appropriately chosen, as its theme permeates the rest of the album – “Roads We’ve Never Taken” is a highway jam about checking off bucket lists, and “Memory Makin'” is an optimistic ode to magic moments.
Dear Life is good, pure fun – a shining debut that defines High Valley’s place as a genre-bending duo, but leaves just enough room for refinement on future projects. The duo is currently on tour with Martina McBride.
The Shotgun Seat Must-Listens:
She’s With Me
Roads We’ve Never Taken