For brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel of the country duo High Valley, it’s all about family and music – two things that have been harmonious in their lives.
Their new album, “Dear Life,” hits shelves on November 18, and serves as a blend of bluegrass, country and positivity. The title itself is striking, with a fitting story behind it. A father to two children, it was actually Curtis’ wife who serendipitously came up with the title when she said “I’m just hanging on for dear life” in regards to how fast their kids are growing up.
“What if there was a twist in it where it wasn’t just talking about that, but it was also writing a journal entry, like a diary,” Curtis explains about how the title came about.
“Make You Mine” is the duo’s most recognizable song, with its upbeat melody and sing-along chorus, making it one of the brothers’ favorite tracks off the new album and to perform live. Along with the title track, the duo calls both songs the best indicators of the new project. “Those are two good bulls eyes for the entire record,” Curtis says.”[They’re] definitely the central musical vibe of the whole record.”
As for the direction the duo wanted to take for this new album, Curtis revealed that they simply stuck to what they do best and stayed true to their own sound. “Throughout the years of our career, we’ve kind of tried to ebb and flow with musical styles and finally we gave up on chasing what was out there and we just did what we’ve always done, which is that kind of three-part harmony acoustic instrument stuff,” he says.
While the sandy beaches of Pensacola Beach, Florida were where four of the album’s songs we written, the boys went back to their roots where they’re most comfortable and recorded “Dear Life” inside their friend’s home in Franklin, Tennessee. “Dear Life” also marks their first album with Warner Music Nashville after signing with them this year, who have welcomed them with open arms. “They didn’t really ask us to change anything, they just kind of embraced what we had already been doing,” Brad says of the major label.
A standout element of “Dear Life” is the presence of bluegrass, a sound they grew up listening to in their native Alberta, Canada, a remote region of the country that kept them relatively out of touch with society as they had no TV or radio. But what they did have was a record player, one that they “wore out” vinyls of bluegrass icon Ricky Skaggs, who greatly influences their style. In addition to Skaggs, Buck Owens and the Everly Brothers were the only celebrities they knew.
“Anytime we just naturally think about people, I naturally would go to him being the most famous person on the planet. He still feels like that to me,” Curtis says of Skaggs. The duo had their dream come true when they got to meet and perform with the star on multiple occasions. In addition to performing a rendition of “Make You Mine” with Skaggs, he also made an appearance when they made their debut at the Grand Ole Opry. At one point during the show, Brad caught a glimpse of the mandolin player watching them from backstage, a smile on his face. “He just kind of gave me this little nod of affirmation while I was playing,” Brad says about the awe-inspiring moment. “I was like ‘this is incredible, Ricky Skaggs is watching me and smiling at me while I’m performing at the Opry.’ So that was pretty cool.”
But Skaggs isn’t the only country music star High Valley has collaborated with. They recently opened for Martina McBride on her Love Unleashed Tour, with both guys raving about the superstar. “It’s been incredible. She’s so great,” Brad says, adding that she has made them feel like a truly welcomed part of the tour, from inviting them to an after party to bringing catered food to their tour bus. “Not a whole lot of headlining acts would go out of their way and make such an effort to get to know the opening acts.” The Rempel brothers also look to her as a role model of how to treat their own opening acts in the future, hoping to pay it forward from her kind gestures. “The way that she displays hospitality is huge and inspiring for us,” Brad continues.
What’s always special for the guys is when they encounter a family at a meet-and-greet and the parents take them aside and thank them for making music that they feel good about their kids listening to and can enjoy as a family, which is a common occurrence. “That’s really special for us because we grew up as a family of six kids and we did everything together. So it’s special anytime we can feel like our music is actually bringing families together,” Curtis says humbly, adding that they hope one day to see hoards of families outside of Bridgestone Arena waiting to see their show, much like the swarm of young girls waiting to see a Justin Bieber concert.
“Dear Life” is available on November 18. High Valley has also partnered with Fire & Flavor to create their own barbecue rub recipes, which can be found here.