Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Nov 2nd 2011 5:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Duval shares a similar retro-tinged roots-rock vibe with all of the above, so it makes perfect sense that she enlisted Carlin Nicholson and Mike O'Brien of Collett's backing band Zeus to produce her debut, which features guest turns from former Collett cohort Bahamas (the solo guise of guitarist Afie Jurvanen) and a duet with Collett himself.
While that musical circle offers a sense of the kind of genre touchstones Duval's working with, she doesn't strictly hew to the same kind of twangy AM-radio-ready approach that Zeus et al deal in -- rather, her songs crackle with a more modern energy, centered around punchy electric guitar riffs and her soaring harmonies (think of an edgier Tegan and Sara).
Like many other fledgling songwriters these days, Duval managed to turn heads thanks to a savvy television placement of one of her tunes: her slow-burn reinvention of the bubblegum 'Grease' ditty 'You're the One That I Want' aired on Showtime's 'Californication,' also landing on the show's official soundtrack.
Instead of heading straight into the studio after that initial attention, Duval took off on an epic road trip through the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree, California. Listening to 'Of the Valley,' it seems like Duval returned with plenty of inspiration, as the songs on her debut brim with gritty-yet-catchy hooks that evoke other guitar heroines like Patti Smith or Joan Jett.
The lead track, 'Control,' immediately sets the tone, opening with Duval's Telecaster riffs well-matched by some zippy percussion. It's a tune that wouldn't be out of place on a Sam Roberts album, especially lyrically. "I'm going for higher/Get my blue jeans out of the dryer/Get down to it, this is a new one/On a mission, a mission to die young," she sings.
Setting Duval apart from the rest of the singer-songwriter pack is her distinctly unfussy vocal style that lends an appealing gutsiness to her songs (one gets the sense the lyrics aren't meant to be taken directly; the songs play out more like a series of short stories with Duval trying different characters on for size).
With so many other strummy songstresses trading in trilled ballads, it's refreshing to hear a newcomer with a tougher sound that's all her own. Duval might only just be starting out, but when it comes to delivering an intriguing take on melodic rock that makes us want to hear more, clearly she's the one in control.