Valley Queen plays the Top Hat Thu., Aug. 9, at 9:30 PM. Free.
When you name your debut album after the biggest and brightest star in the galaxy, you’d better deliver a worthy record — and Valley Queen does just that. Frontwoman Natalie Carol is an astonishing vocalist, both in volume and pitch. There’s a gravity-like pull to her sound, and a raw emotion that ramps up the intensity with every inflection. While her baseline sound entails a folk-styled lilting, she seems just as comfortable with piercing high notes and low growling vibrato. In “Bedroom,” she twice hits and holds notes for 20 seconds (I counted) resulting in something that feels like an aural depiction of infinity.
On “Gems and Rubies,” the back and forth between the vocals and Shawn Morones’ zealous guitar is a perfect example of the musicians’ ability to riff off each other. The same happens in “Two of Cups,” but this time with Mike DeLuccia carrying the momentum on the drums. The natural cohesion sounds like the band, which formed in 2014, has been playing together for decades, not just a few years. If Carol seems to steal the show every time she opens her mouth, the rest of the band is driving the getaway car, clearly carrying their share of the weight toward the next destination.