Even though it comes only four years after her debut, Americana singer-songwriter Valerie June’s second album, “The Order of Time,” is the culmination of more than a decade of work.
When June began recording, she showed up with about 100 songs she had written over 10 to 12 years. Together, she and producer Matt Marinelli culled them down into a cohesive album that combines the Southern gospel June grew up singing with blues, soul and folk music.
amNewYork spoke with June.
How did you pick the songs that made the album?
[Marinelli and I] put lists together. The [songs] that were similar, we knew we had to record together. I had final say for the ones we differed on. Part of that for me is that some of these songs have been popping up and taunting me for 10 years like, “Please record me, please record me.” For the ones that were really on me, I had to get them recorded because songs are living things. They’re living just like a plant or a person. They have desires and ways they wish to be fulfilled in their greatest capacity in the world. I’m always listening to the song and listening to what it wants me to do.
You’ve talked about songs as messages you receive. What do you mean by that?
The songs just come to me in the same way a composer hears a symphony in his head. They hear strings, horns, bass and drums. I hear voices in the same way. But mine is just voices, it’s not instruments. That’s pretty much how it happens.
Do they come to you at specific times?
Usually while I’m dong other things. I might be walking down the street, having dinner, or washing dishes. They don’t usually come while I’m listening to music or watching something that has sound. That can interfere with it.
What did you learn from touring with people like Sharon Jones over the last few years?
With Sharon, it was kind of amazing to watch her because of the energy she had on stage. Not being well and giving that much to the crowd night after night, it’s just so inspiring to me. ... Dreamers can often be discouraged from achieving their dreams. People say you should go to school or get a real job. Sharon had a real job for most of her life, working at a prison. She was like, “No. I’m going to live my dream and no one’s going to tell me I can’t.”
How did you wind up asking your family to sing on the album?
I knew my brothers had to sing with me on this record because the songs I wanted them to sing, they came to my show at Carnegie Hall and sang there. I loved it and everybody loved it. ... My dad was in the room while they were recording. He was getting up to leave and I said, “No, you have to record too.” He was like, “No, no, I don’t want to do it.” I said, “Yes, you’re going to do it.” He passed away in November and now I have this photograph of his voice, and it’s like the best thing I could ever have. I have a lot of pictures of him, but nothing’s like the picture of the sound of his voice. It really means the world to me.