Brad Rempel of country group High Valley thinks of each album as a bullseye.
The center is the band’s distinct sound that Rempel loves most to create.
“I feel the most natural, and that High Valley is what it should be when I’m writing a very old school bluegrassy melody,” Rempel said. “Then my co-writers run with it and say, ‘Let’s make this a European soccer stadium anthem.’ Then we meet somewhere in the middle of those two worlds.”
High Valley recently released two such songs - “Whatever It Takes” (Jon Nite, Ben Stennis, Brad Rempel) and “Never Not” (Ben West, Matt Willis, Brad Rempel).
The songs are a precursor to a full album that Rempel said is 80 percent finished.
“There was the right balance between those songs of, ‘Hey, this is High Valley, this is what you love about High Valley,’” Rempel said. “That’s ‘Whatever it Takes.’ “Then ‘Never Not’ is, ‘They didn’t get their feet stuck in concrete somewhere. High Valley is still hauling.”
Rempel, who has always been a prolific songwriter, said he had even more songs to choose from when recording the album because the Covid-associated downtime gave him even more opportunities to write songs. He said he “didn’t hold anything too precious” and made his songs available to others to record.
The result will be an album with the hopeful High Valley anthems fans adore, with some bluegrass, frontporchy moments, and a few more progressive songs.
“My kids play sports, and they only think I’m cool when I have songs they can use as walk-up songs,” Rempel said. “So I try to write those, too. I think we have a sound. I’m never searching for it.”
High Valley does look a little bit different these days. The group started as a trio of Canadian brothers who released their first album in the U.S. in 2010. Bryan Rempel left the group in 2014 to focus on his family. And in the last few weeks, the group revealed that Curtis Rempel had moved his family home to Canada, too. The decision happened during the peak of COVID-19, but the band saw no use in sharing it because they weren’t playing any shows.
“Curtis and his wife are both from our town, so they have that postcard life where they raise their kids with the grandparents down the street, so all their kids will ever know is that,” Rempel said.
Rempel said some of the guys in the band had been performing with the group as long as his brother, so High Valley’s sound isn’t heavily impacted by his departure. And they all like each other, he said.
“They were at our house for a photoshoot,” he said. “When it was over, they all went fishing instead of rushing off. I told my wife, ‘That’s when you know you have a good group when they choose to hang out with each other.’”