Val Storey’s “Share Your Secrets with Me”
The second album from Nashville’s Val Storey, Share Your Secrets with Me, is a watershed moment for Storey. The thirteen songs included on her sophomore collection move her from the realm of extraordinarily promising into rarefied air and solidify her credentials as one of Nashville’s most formidable new talents. Her long reach as an interpreter leaves nothing off-limits; she moves just as easily in bluesy pop-oriented environments as she does traditional country and bluegrass idioms.
“Songbird” is a brilliant way to open the release. It highlights her eloquent vocal skills within an arrangement that’s seemingly designed to support every syllable. Larry Cordle’s warm production presents her talents in the best possible light, and she surrounds herself with top-shelf musicians who address themselves to the track with dedication and taste. Her take on Nanci Griffith’s “Love at the Five and Dime” is even finer. She delivers the lyrics with an even greater amount of soulful yearning than Griffith’s classic performance and strikes up an instant chemistry with guest performances from Sharon White-Skaggs and her husband country and bluegrass music legend Ricky Skaggs.
Del McCoury’s “I Feel the Blues Movin’ In” turns the page for Storey into gritty blues territory. She responds to the challenge with a masterful take on McCoury’s song complimented by knifing slide guitar runs and ribald freewheeling piano passages. She further confounds what casual fans of the genre might expect with her “bluegrassed” variation on the underrated Beatles classic “I’ve Just Seen a Face”. She and her fellow musicians hit the gas pedal for this one, blazing through the performance, without sacrificing nuance along the way. She translates the Fab Four’s musical vision over to her wheelhouse without losing a step.
“Skylark” goes in a different direction. She dives deep into early 20th-century American pop for her re-envisioning of the Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer written classic. It gives her a powerful foundation to weave vocal magic that she capitalizes on time after time; hearing her give full vent to her vocal power is nothing less than astonishing. The abiding wisdom underlying a song such as “Less of Me” gains an added lift from the bright and lively piano accompanying Storey along the way. It peaks with a piercing chorus certain to cut listeners to the quick.
The meditative grace of “Tumblin’ Down” is a perfect piece for Storey. It boasts a spartan arrangement that relies more on accumulated effects rather than presenting its whole hand at once. She gives expression to her spiritual faith during the album’s penultimate tune. “There Is a God” is an intelligently written track that avoids any hint of dogmatic broadside and, instead, grounds itself in the everyday struggles of life and faith. The understated passion she brings to the performance is quite moving. Share Your Secrets with Me is a fabulous release from beginning to end. Its excellence assures that Val Storey’s star will shine brighter than ever before. Let’s bask in its warm glow and be thankful she shares her talents with us.