The Folk of July Fest went down a few weeks ago at Austin’s Scoot Inn, and for local folk fans, it was the perfect event. Eye In The Sky Collective lassoed some of the city’s finest together for an unforgettable show: Robert Ellis, Whiskey Shivers, and Ghosts Along The Brazos, to name a few. But the concert also proved to be something of a coming-out party for Jack Valen.
The young singer-songwriter is relatively new to the scene, but he doesn’t sound like it. Valen used Folk of July as a pre-release party for his debut EP, House of Lions. The record collects four songs that marry folk with rock-and-roll swagger; it’s the sound of an artist shooting for the rafters with his first appearance. Influential Austin blog OVRLD calls it “an ode to the dry, raw reeds of folk music.”
That rawness rears its head on EP standout “It Takes Two.” Over a raucous, country-rock backing, Valen sings about an imagined relationship that’s perhaps too idealistic for its own good. But the singer understands the duality of everything: “I know I’ll make you cry / But then I’ll sing another tune that’ll make you smile and dry your eye.” It’s this kind of sentiment that will keep Jack Valen on the radar, no matter which stage he’s on.