Like the restless chop on a flowing river, there’s a sense of angst aching beneath the surface of a beautiful harmony in “Valentine” that punches listeners in the gut right around the chorus in Grey DeLisle’s latest release, leaving us both bewildered by the strength of the vocal and completely jarred by the emotional sting of the verse. Everything is coming undone at once for the protagonist in this poem, and yet the chaos is transpiring too quietly for anyone outside of our hearts to see or understand the pain. If insular pop songwriting is the latest and greatest trend millennials and zoomers can agree on, Grey DeLisle might have just released its ultimate anthem.
Structurally speaking, “Valentine” is as willingly barebones as I could ask for, and it doesn’t need anything more than its players have given it. DeLisle is accompanied by Murry Hammond of The Old 97’s, who wrote this incredible song, and Greg Leisz on pedal steel, and both men give as powerful a performance as this remarkable songstress does.
Sometimes less is more, and if there were ever an occasion on which such a statement were proven true, I think the release of this single qualifies. If this is just a taste of where Grey DeLisle’s music is going at the moment, the veteran recording artist might be stumbling into the best chapter of her career yet in 2021. She’s a beacon of hope and a lamenter of immeasurable pain in this performance, and though she has shown herself to be quite the reliable player in plenty of different scenarios prior to now, I don’t believe any will be as definitively memorable as this recent cut is. A perfect ten out of ten, “Valentine” is required listening for anyone in need of some true melodic comfort this season.