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Nature [Digipak] *


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  • There's a song called "Transformation" on Valet's third album, Nature, and it's safe to say that the project's founder, Honey Owens, experienced some radical changes after the release of 2008's Naked Acid. During that time, Owens made experimental dance music with Rafael Fauria as Miracles Club and also started a family with him (it's also notable that there's a song called "Child"). Her return to Valet couldn't help but reflect these differences, but it's still remarkable how, well, natural they sound on Nature. The album's heady psych pop is miles away from the dancefloor, yet it's hard not to think that Owens' time with Miracles Club helped her infuse these songs with heightened presence, drama, and rhythm. The drones that gave Blood Is Clean and Naked Acid a mirage-like shimmer are now backdrops for more structured songs that touch the ground at least once in a while, and some of the biggest departures are the brightest highlights. The gorgeous title track is pushed forward by breezy acoustic strumming and vocals that are far more active, and immediate, than any of Valet's previous music, while "Lion"'s hazy jangle gradually becomes towering in a way that is distinct from, yet just as potent as, her earlier excursions. Likewise, it's hard to tell whether the guitar solo on "Signs" is more remarkable for how trippy it is, or that there's a solo at all. As much as Owens ventures away from Valet's roots on Nature, she also finds new ways of honoring them. She remains true to the project's transcendent softness in the way these songs flow into each other, as well as on "Nowhere" and "Child," both of which allow ecstatic, sun-dappled drones to take the spotlight. Transporting and pastoral, Nature is a beautiful culmination of Owens' artistry. ~ Heather Phares
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