Country fans are no strangers to the uncanny musical connection of a family band, but they’ve never heard anything like the duo High Valley – and that’s simply because brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel never knew how country was “supposed” to sound.
Growing up in La Crete, Alberta — more than 2,500 miles from where they now live in Music City — Brad and Curtis were completely cut off from the world of pop culture throughout their early lives.
“It’s not that we weren’t allowed to have a radio,” lead singer and songwriter Brad, explains. “We had radios, but you turned them on and heard a lot of static from an AM station 300 miles away. When it was cold enough you could hear the farm report, the price of grain and the occasional old school country song. We finally got FM in our town when I was in 10th grade.”
While their upbringing didn't exactly acquaint them with the Billboard 100, it’s that insulation that helped cement their musical ideals and love of simple, classic country, allowing High Valley’s music to feel simultaneously fresh and timeless. Dear Life, their recently released major label debut on Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville, is an album that fuses tradition with wide-eyed musical exploration, stays true to their family-first value system and celebrates resilient positivity.
High Valley learned to become skilled digital citizens, building an avid fan base that is actively involved in selecting the duo’s songs through the High Valley app and connecting with each other via social media. As a result, they have amassed more than 43 million song streams worldwide – including 22 million for first single “Make You Mine.”
Likewise, they are the first country act to broadcast live on Twitch.TV in the United States and their song “Young Forever” scored placement on EA Sports’ Madden NFL 17 Soundtrack. The band has been selected for “Ones to Watch” recognition by Rolling Stone Country, Spotify, Pandora, CMT and Taste of Country. And they’ve been profiled on CBS This Morning for their unique and inspiring story and performed on NBC’s Today Show.
“You could say it’s weird that we come from the upbringing we do and make this kind of music,” Curtis admits, “but if you analyze Dear Life and the messages on it, you can almost tell that we were brought up the way we were.”
“That’s why the record was called Dear Life,” says Brad. “Because that song for me was trying to write a journal entry to God and my life and say, ‘I really have loved every mile of this road.’”
Saying their biggest compliment is when a fan describes their music as “old-school and modern” at the same time, “Make You Mine” is an excellent introduction to the rest of Dear Life. For example “She’s With Me,” the newest single from Dear Life, is an anthemic opening track that begins as something ancient and ends ahead of the country curve, also announcing High Valley’s desire for their music to be positive and family oriented.
“My life is not perfect, but I’ve experienced dark things with positive results at the end of it,” Brad says. “The opening line of the entire record says ‘When the devil’s knocking at my door,’ and I wouldn't say that’s a very positive idea, but the conclusion of the whole song is ‘Holy cow, she’s been with me through the thick and thin,’ and that’s been my experience with my wife.”
“Families are a tough thing in today’s world,” Curtis agrees. “They fall apart all the time, and if we could leave our mark by doing our little part and trying to bring families together, I think that’s great.”
Meanwhile, the title track “Dear Life” is a foot stomping thank-you letter inspired by watching children grow, “Don’t Stop” offers steady encouragement to persevere and the hand-in-hand “Memory Makin’” asks the question, “Do you believe that there’s a meant-to-be?”
“Roads We’ve Never Taken” shows their energized and optimistic outlook with plucky, banjo-rolling abandon, while the chanting gang vocals of “Young Forever” were dreamed up during a family beach trip to Pensacola.
“Nothing makes you feel more young than chilling on a beach and throwing a football around in the waves,” Brad says with a smile. “It’s like ‘Man, if we could freeze this weekend and stay young forever, it would be perfect.’”
The Rempel brothers have already scored six Top 10s, three Gold certifications, played to 15,000 seat arenas opening for Shania Twain and earned multiple awards show wins – including Canadian CMA Group of the Year. And now with their major label debut, a fall tour with Martina McBride and a headlining U.K. trek on the way, it’s true that High Valley inhabit a much different world today than the one they were raised in. But some things remain the same, and that is the central theme of one of the album’s most powerful tracks, the hard-charging backroad rocker, “I Ain’t Changin’.”
“That was a very important song for me because of our upbringing,” Brad explains. “The chorus is like ‘I ain’t changing the way I talk, I ain’t changing the way I pray, I ain’t changing my last name.’ Yeah, I’m in a big city now, not in the middle of some field somewhere…”
“But that doesn’t change the core of who we are,” Curtis jumps in.
Brad continues. “I remember coming to Nashville six years ago and thinking about 100 different things that would blow my mind – and they’re all happening. I don’t want to wake up one day and say ‘Wow, I’m completely different than what I was.’”
If anything, Dear Life is evidence that Brad and Curtis shouldn't worry about losing their way. Their calling is a strong one – to bring positive and original family-friendly energy back to the country landscape – and they’re following it with passion.