Hearing Aide: Darling Valley “Crooked Orchards”

As the latest album from the newly re-imagined folk quartet, Darling Valley, falls into our laps, there is quite a bit of substance undetermined. With this double wife-husband duo, we get all the warm feelings of family and hospitality, even in the freezing climates of Upstate New York, where the four band mates first originated. From their distant years under the name Accents, this group has numerously reshaped their genre, band members and multi-instrumental capabilities to land them where they are now —releasing Crooked Orchards on June 24 through Sounds and Tones Records. The real question is, where, in their transition from Accents to Darling Valley, was their musical peak as an ensemble? To some, it may not be in this new release.

Featuring a plethora of emotional roller coasters, instruments and vocal timbres, this 11-track record was the first step in pulling together what is now Darling Valley. They made their first appearance online competing in the NPR Tiny Desk Competition, where they performed “Widows and Revolutionaries,” which eventually made its way to this album. Their other hit singles are featured on this album as well, including the adorable “Graces” and the uplifting ode to growing pains, “You’ll Go Far, Kid.”

Multi-instrumentalists TJ Foster, Ashleigh Whitfield, Lauren Foster and Jordan Stewart are testaments to a premier ensemble. Their songs are uplifting, while featuring an array of instruments, from mandolin to trumpet. They have the most warming videos, including their newest video release of “You’ll Go Far, Kid,” which was directed by an 8 year old and features the bandmates dressed as animals.

With the stories they portray through songs like “Widows and Revolutionaries,” there is no doubt that the 1,186 likes they have on Facebook are truly devoted fans. However, there is still something missing from Crooked Orchards. One theory would be its overall lack of contrast, featuring nothing new enough to bring to the table of 2016’s top charts. That being said, there is a market for folk-pop lovers on the Internet, and there is no doubt that they will eventually find Darling Valley, and that will be all the fans they need. Listening to Darling Valley will also provide three things you didn’t know you needed: tight vocal harmony, a variety of instruments and an overwhelming mix of heartbreak, encouragement and joy. And for that, we are grateful for Crooked Orchards

Top Tracks: Graces, Widows and Revolutionaries, You’ll Go Far, Kid