What’s the value of words when you can change them anytime and in any form? In the digital age the written-down word clearly lost value, it invites the world to get manipulated in all form. Unsatisfied with what you posted? Well, just delete it, change it in the aftermath and don’t face any consequences unless someone screenshots your mistake. I mean, even as an online magazine we benefit from that possibility. Just look at all the spelling mistakes we make. In the accelerated age of quickly written opinions words become vague and statements lets permanent, at least when you compare it to something written down on paper. Brian DellaValle would like to change that, at least for his songwriter project Of The Valley.

‘Capturing a combination of words that speaks to my reality comes from a process based on trust and risk,’ the Canadian songwriter explains his relationship with the words. The voice that he recognised as Of The Valley came first through pen-to-paper as he explains. These days he moved on to write down his lyrics via a typewriter, a tool that forces its user to think twice before starting to type. It’s an odd method but DellaValle really embraced this slightly romanticized method:

‘A typewriter puts this idea into practice directly, from its design. With this method, I enter into a relationship with the words: they are trusted, they are offered permanence.  Once the piece is down, I tuck it away and come back to it later on, to read it from a reader’s mind.  It is then that the writing is tested for its ability to inspire emotion in me.’

It did take him a while to get used to that method as he explains but the result was quite relieving as it frees him from the dependencies and distraction of the digital age. He explains: ‘A typewriter does not need to be turned on, or to translate alphabetic language into digital language and back again on a screen, or be updated, or become outdated; and it provides no lighting for my eyes.’ In many way, the freshly released self-titled Of The Valley debut album breathes that analogue and raw songwriter spirit that isn’t interested in Instagram followers, hip streaming playlists and shiny music videos that attract a broad audience. It’s a selection of ten honest songs that just exist for their own purpose. DellaValle’s soulful timbre calms the listener down, takes him on a slow journey that doesn’t call for any distraction. That feeling is one the songwriter who is based in Copenhagen these days embraced a long time ago. ‘Calmness in an energetic, charged, and noisy space is the origin-story of Of The Valley’s voice,’ he states. The songs on this album partly also deal with DellaValle’s relationship with these modern times. ‘The album was written one metre from a window that was one metre from a very active construction site,’ he explains to me. You actually here a bit of the sampled metal in the hopeful opening track Quiet and Curious if you listen carefully.

Finding hope inside of heaviness

His full-length debut spreads a certain soulful warmth while also being quite introspective at the same time. Despair and hope often live quite close to each other. ‘They force themselves in throughout the process,’ as he explains the difficult relationship to me.

‘Heaviness can be balanced away by the gift of life itself- the incomprehensible odds of being here- and Hope can be countered by the chaos that is baked in to each individual life on offer. Fear of either of these forces would distort reality, just as feverishly grasping to either distorts still.’

A certain area of conflict is necessary; it’s all about balance and DellaValle simply wouldn’t feel home inside a piece of work that idolises either. In the best cases a synergy happens and in many ways this is what the album Of The Valley provides – hope within desperate moments and a dark undertone in the more optimistic places. The songwriter adds: ‘Inside a deep, cavernous heaviness, a thin flickering hope, however dim, can be as powerful as anything.’ 

Of The Valley‘s debut album is an elaborate listening experience for all fans of the ‘old’ Bon Iver, Phosphorescent, The National or Iron & Wine. It makes intensity sound very easy and it likes to tell stories to his audience, stories that DellaValle carefully composed, wrote down and thought about before putting them on a record. It’s an album that demands your time but also rewards you for the hours you’ll invest in it. DellaValle himself already envisioned a quite good setting for the listeners to enjoy this album. Ready? Here’s how you should experience the LP best;

‘In your own home, red wine, volume. Drink one glass of red wine setting up the speakers to point to one spot in the room. Move couch / Chairs there. Turn it up as loud as you can. Drink one glass of red wine listening to the record and refill for another in between ‘Over Your World’ and ‘Tall Tall Tales’. Always consider turning it louder. After ‘A Place Where My Mind Can Be Free’, listen to me walking away, and then walk away yourself. 35 minutes and a half bottle of red.’

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? and while you’re doing that please also pay attention to the words of these songs. Take your time, appreciate the value and discover this album as soon as you can. It will be worth it, trust me.

Of The Valley’s self-titled debut album is out now via Backseat. Watch an exclusive short film about it right here.

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