Charley Crockett spent the last few years of the 2010s cranking out albums as if he was attempting to outrun a demon. In a sense, that's true. Crockett began his life with a diagnosis of Wolf Parkinson's White Disease, a congenital heart disease that he's lived with his entire life. Not long after he supported a pair of terrific albums in 2018 with a grueling tour schedule, he noticed his heart condition worsening, so a series of surgeries were arranged and just prior to going under the knife, he wrote and recorded the songs that comprise The Valley. Bearing the subtitle "And Other Autobiographical Tunes," The Valley does indeed bear the marks of memoir, containing songs about his hardscrabble childhood and colorful journey. Where some songwriters might stare down death's door with a mournful gaze, Crockett exhibits a considerable sense of warmth and good humor here. In the face of death, Crockett has decided to dig deep within the aspects of music he loves, relying on weathered cowboy ballads, barrel-chested blues, lean rockabilly, and rangy Texas honky tonk. The eclecticism is never forced: it rolls easy, sounding like the juke joint of your dreams. The Valley feels so alive, it's something of a wonder that Crockett made the music while he was unsure of whether he'd see the next year, but that speaks greatly to his gifts as a musician. During his darkest moments, Crockett relies on the instincts that make him a delightfully unpredictable Americana artist and winds up with a record that sums up his word view quite elegantly.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine