Vocal performances can make or break an album. You can have the most lackluster songwriting and mediocre instrumentation, but a dynamic vocal performance elevates the level of any album. Find someone with a distinctive voice or beautiful tone, and the quality of the whole musical experience will go up a few notches. Some albums only succeed because of a performance like this.
Eisley’s The Valley has this kind of vocal performance. Stacy DuPree’s voice is just right for this type of album, and she shines on every song. Her voice meshes with the instrumentation perfectly, her sound is distinctive (think a less airy, more passionate version of Leigh Nash), and she hits the notes just about perfectly.
What makes this album so great is that, as good as the vocals are, they aren’t even the best part about the album. The Valley could succeed based solely on its instrumentation, songwriting, or vocal performance, but all three work together perfectly to create something special. The album opens with DuPree singing over a strings loop, and from there, the album quickly develops into a solid collection orchestrated indie pop songs. The songs are all at once beautiful, powerful, and haunting.
But for me, the very strongest song on the album is the last one – Ambulance. The instrumentation is building and epic as it supports powerful and emotional lyrics. Few Christian artists are willing to truly address deep, dark pains, but Eisley does not shy away from vulnerability. The members of Eisley have faced some very difficult times between this album and their last full-length release, and it shows in these and other lyrics.
I try to pick out a weakness in every album I review so I don’t come across as a gushing fanboy, but I honestly haven’t been able to do that with The Valley. This is a perfectly executed indie pop album. I can only give this album five out of five stars. It will most definitely get plenty more listens from me.