Self described as either “sing-song” or “soul music for the soul,” June West’s music coalesces several cozy genres into one exceptionally listenable style: Americana choruses, folk-rock guitar, heartland saxophone, jazzy piano and bluesy drums. These are not to detract from West’s voice, however. Her dark and poetic vocals laying on top of the lush instruments fuse into a rich, deeply golden sound.
We caught up with West ahead of her debut album release show at Exo Roast to find out the albums that inspired her.
7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13. Exo Roast Co. 403 N. 6th Ave $10.
Little Ann Deep Shadows
Easily my favorite record of all time. It felt like fate when I found the LP at the original Mississippi Records in Portland, OR. An out-of-the-blue friend just happened to be there as I picked it up, and she said, “That’s your record right there.” If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that ’ll never tire of Little Ann’s velvety voice, heartachey man problems and endless grooves. A versatile record that’s great for a dance party, a sunshine drive, or an afternoon cry.
Love Apple S/T
I love minimalist soul music. This record is a rehearsal tape from Cleveland, OH in the late 70s, reissued by the Numero Group. Everything about it is so raw and real. I am often struck by how little is needed to make music that moves people. The band possesses what I consider to be genuine soul, the lack of production allows it shine through without interference. This record is my go-to in order to ease the vibe of any situation.
TIE: Neil Young Everybody Knows This is Nowhere / Nick Drake Pink Moon
A friend let me borrow a burned CD with both albums on it for an impromptu road trip, then it got jammed in my car stereo for over three years. I found almost every driving scenario during this time (particularly the time spent in my hometown of Missoula) was blissfully soundtracked by one album or the other. Even though the CD eventually came out, they will forever be timeless treasures that continue to score the soundtrack of my life and influence me in subliminal ways.
Alice Coltrane Journey in Satchidananda
Over the years I’ve been designing my own spiritual practice. I’ve taken much inspiration from Alice Coltrane’s jazz music and her own spiritual journey learning from Indian guru Swami Satchidananda. The first time I heard this album, it blew me away musically, needless to say. The more I listened, the more it instantly created this space for my mind to recenter and ground. The record is now a ritual for me, I put it on so that I can access the strength of peace within myself. Pretty powerful stuff.
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou S/T
It is certainly cringeworthy for me to refer to music as a “universal language” right now, but honestly I can appreciate the transcendence of this concept when listening to Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. The piano music of this Ethiopian nun born in 1923 grants every listener a sense of peace and evokes the nostalgic beauty of life, in her own unique expression. Even though we may seem worlds apart in terms of identity, history, culture, belief system, language, life path, what have you, listening to her music makes me realize how close we really are without needing to say a single word about it.