14 Jun 2024

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Valere - EP Review: Gold Dust

10 Jun 2024 // A review by Danica Bryant

Christchurch performer Valere has built an impressive catalogue over the past decade, and her latest EP Gold Dust is no exception. Informed by recent years of experiences with motherhood, marriage and familial love and loss, Valere rediscovered the simplicity of songwriting on the guitar, and has now shared six powerful tracks motivated by this artistic return.

Azariah's Lullaby is an incredibly delicate opener, tranquil and gentle in its lo-fi approach. To the sound of birds chirping and ambient noise, Valere promises the titular Azariah that they are safe with her, despite knowing "the world may be hurting" outside. It's a sweet, comforting tune that eases the listener into the collection's themes of family and love. The song's jarring cut-off leads into the smooth number Sober, a highlight of the EP which begins in a similarly subtle manner but grows into an edgier chorus. Sharp electric guitars cut through the production, which swings from peaceful acoustics to slick pop grooves. This song's hook is impeccable, with simple lyrics that carry a bittersweet melody guaranteed to play on repeat in your mind.

With its nostalgic early 2000's sound, Stuck In My Head also stands out for its kicking percussion and quirky sound effects. The theme of searching for a life that they can call "classic" matches this production nicely, as it envelops Valere's warm, rich vocal tone. Her voice shines even more when highlighted against Vincent Eco's on their collaboration All In All Yours. Sharing the lead role all the way through, the plain instrumentation emphasises a pure chemistry between the two performers. A bright synth sparkles underneath and gives the tune a sunlit, cozy feeling throughout.

Another great moment from this EP is Lily's March, a track exploring the cycle of feminine identity in motherhood. The storytelling is heartfelt, made all the more beautiful by Valere's earnest delivery and the expansive unfolding production. As the title would suggest, a marching band style drum draws out the song's full theatrical potential. It builds the overall project to a moving finale in Gold Dust, written about the line where life and death overlap. Emphasising a 90's-feeling electric guitar before blossoming into a woodwind section, the title track feels accessible but also highly unique.

Whilst Valere frequently describes her genre as R&B or indie synth pop, by the close of the Gold Dust EP, it's very apparent much of her songwriting is deeply rooted in folk style narratives. The prevailing lesson of the EP is that "the gold is in the dust", and with such from-the-heart writing, it's one Valere will certainly leave you thinking about with this beautiful musical collection.


About Valere

Valere is Otautahi based songwriter and producer Shana Graham whose intricate rhythms, rich melodies and new wave sounds mesh into music that’s ‘kinetic, yet warmly intimate’ (NZ Musician Magazine). An APRA Songhubs Sphere alum and International Songwriting Competition semi-finalist, Valere’s debut album colours garnered spots on ZM, BaseFM and various Spotify playlists including The Local List NZ. A recent signee to Enemy Love Records, Valere is gearing up to release her fourth project early next year with new singles even sooner.

Photo Credit: Hayden Graham

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Valere


Gold Dust
Year: 2024
Type: EP
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Year: 2016
Type: EP
Weary Eyes
Year: 2014
Type: EP

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