Canadian siblings Brad and Curtis Rempel, who comprise the High Valley duo, have been around for more than a decade, long enough to find their comfortable landing spot – a deft mixture of bluegrass and mainstream country, driven home by masterful harmonies. Their previous singles like “Make You Mine” and “She’s With Me” were absolutely delightful, and the brothers have enjoyed ample opportunities to ply their considerable musical skills on tours with Keith Urban and other A-list acts. So, it’s a bit surprising that they haven’t mined more success in the States. That could all turn around with this six-song EP, Grew Up on That, which further plays into the duo’s bluegrass-country fusion while providing a greater insight into the brothers’ personal lives with songs such as the title track and the tender “Your Mama.”
Of those two, “Your Mama” glows with sincere sentiment and a greater sense of originality. The song is a lovely ode to the brothers’ respective wives, delivered from the unique point of view of a parent speaking to a child. It doesn’t get more down-to-earth than the verse line, Your mama Got the patience of an angel / Quick to love and slow to anger / We oughta thank her, we’re the lucky ones. Certainly, one would be cursed with the proverbial heart of stone to not be moved. Somewhat surprisingly, neither of the Rempel brothers had a hand in writing this (Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line is one of the four authors), but they more than own the message.
Of lesser impact is the title tune, a fast-paced litany of images invoking childhood memories of how the brothers were raised. There’s no doubt that this is a credible approach, and we have to figure that the brothers are giving us the honest lowdown. But this is unfortunately replete with the same well-worn imagery that has dotted a barrage of similar songs – “Feet on the dashboard,” “Little white church,” well, we’ve seen this movie already. At the same time, you have to hand it to the writers for rhyming “vinyl” with “Bible,” a pretty audacious (and clever) rhyme scheme to be sure.
Certainly, the timing could not be more apt for “River’s Still Running.” Whether co-writers Brad Rempel, Randy Montana, and Corey Crowder intended it or not, the cut is a welcome antidote for the troubling, uncertain times we’re faced with today. An unbridled sense of optimism, with an appreciation for what life has to offer, runs from the opening lines, It’s alright / Ain’t worried ’bout nothin’ / Sun came up and the river’s still runnin’. The guys deliver with the right enthusiasm and down-home believability, and enough listens to the exuberant, sing-along chorus will likely cure whatever’s ailing you at the moment.
“Northern Star,” which kicks off with a solid a cappella chorus, continues the upbeat theme, comparing one’s true love to a porch light that guides you through the darkness. It’s a nice showcase for High Valley’s brotherly harmonies, and its promise of eternal love, even during the tough times, practically deems it as the next “wedding song” contender.
The EP’s highlight comes with the final track, “Show Me the Way.” Set to jangling guitars and a catchy melody, the song hums along with the breeziness of a spring day. Jillian Edwards joins in for harmony vocals, and she blends in well with the brothers. Listeners will notice a “Northern star” reference in this tune, which at first proves a bit jolting given the earlier “Northern Star” track. But the song is simply too irresistible to quibble over a matter that turns out to be minor.
Grew Up on That features a clean, unobtrusive production that lets the brothers shine through. Even with only six songs, this could be the game-changer for High Valley.
Grew Up On That Track Listing:
- Grew Up On That (Brad Rempel, Ben Stennis, Jaron Boyer)
- Your Mama (Ben West, Tyler Hubbard, Josh Miller, Troy Verges)
- River’s Still Running (Brad Rempel, Randy Montana, Corey Crowder)
- Northern Star (Brad Rempel, Matt Rogers, Ben Stennis)
- One Day You’ll Get It (Brad Rempel, Derrick Southerland, Ben West)
- Show Me The Way (feat. Jillian Edwards) (Brad Rempel, Daniel Tashian, Tenille Nadkrynechny)