By Andy McFerren
My initial thought while listening to For Now, Focus Here by This Valley Glow was that it was like if The Postal Service made indie folk music, but isn’t that just like Bon Iver with Ben Gibbard singing?
This is mostly heard on the song “Octover.” Close your eyes and you will start to feel the misty fog of the Pacific Northwest and existential dread that inspires so much of Ben Gibbard’s music, and upon opening them, you are either pleasantly surprised or unfortunately disappointed that you are not actually in this magical landscape that inspired the classic young adult series Twilight.
And while obvious influences are any project Justin Vernon has been involved in—as Bon Iver, Big Red Machine, or otherwise— and possibly anything Ben Gibbard has touched, you can feel This Valley Glow find their own sound as you move through the album. And say what you will, but even a mere attempt at sounding like somebody like Justin is admirable in and of itself because—news flash—he’s not a dime a dozen. Even after his success, we really haven’t seen many—if any—successful copycats. If more people could actually sound like him, they would. So bravo, fellas.
Now that I’ve said they do and don’t sound like Bon Iver combined with Death Cab in so many words, let me tell you what this album sounds like without mentioning either of them. Most songs are beautifully layered with a smorgasbord of sound. Each song begins simple, with only a couple instruments, typically a more traditional sound—whether that be an acoustic guitar or piano—and builds from there. Add some drums, electric guitar, and some cool synth sounds and as they all combine and crescendo, it gives the effect of electronic wind chimes.
If there is a critique, it’s that I could not tell you a single lyric save one from this album. The vocals, while beautiful, are masked with the aforementioned layering of sound. And to be fair, l was probably just entranced by everything else going on in the album. But like I said, I remember a single lyric from the last song on the album, “Reconvene”:
“Well shit man, that’s that.”
And that’s that, folks. I can’t wait to see what else This Valley Glow comes up with as they continue to hammer out their own sound. On July 1, 2022, they released “Fall, Too Soon” with Behind Sundown, which is aptly named because it gives off immaculate fall vibes, so don’t listen until fall or else you’ll be disappointed. Listen to it here, as well as my favorite track off For Now, Focus Here, “Bethel,” below.