One Track Mind: Stone Blind Valentine, “Think What You Will” from Burn Like a Field (2013)

A song about hard-won acceptance, Stone Blind Valentine’s “Think What You Will” begins with a raw acoustic riff from Colby Maddox before Emily Hurd enters — all steely resolve, but barely obscuring a sweeping moment of heartbreak.

Slowly, the rest of Stone Blind Valentine — a Chicago-based bluegrass amalgam that also includes singer/guitarist Greg Ostrom, and for this album bassist/producer John Abbey — begin to join the proceedings, but never play above a whisper. That puts Hurd’s lyric front and center, and keeps it there.

“If looks could kill,” Hurd sings ruefully as she ruminates at the piano, “you could have gunned me down.”

Elsewhere on their engaging debut Burn Like a Field, Stone Blind Valentine explores a interesting amalgam of mountain music (the title track, “Crown the Kings”), city blues (“Extra Extra”) and even a Crescent City vibe (“Whiskey Neat”). Still, it’s here, on the project’s quietly stirring finale, that everything seems to come together for SBV.

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Stone Blind Valentine is set to play two Illinois shows in celebration of the release of ‘Burn Like a Field,’ on February 16, 2013 at the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center in Rockford, and then on February 17 at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston. Tickets are available at the band’s web site: www.stoneblindvalentine.com.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.