Valerie’s ‘First & Foremost’ is a stunning debut record.

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Valerie

The cover of Valerie's debut studio album, ‘First & Foremost’.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

Russian singer-songwriter and indie newcomer Valerie made her debut in April 2019 with her first two singles, “Digitally” and “Backseat”, and began building a small following on the underground pop music scene before dropping her third single, “Timezones”, that July as the lead single from her debut EP, First & Foremost, which was later revealed to be her debut studio album.

Released in late February, First & Foremost is a sonic departure from the fun, youthful pop star-esque quality of her previous work and has a darker, more mature sound with soft vocals, introspective lyricism, and smooth dream pop production.

Lyrically, the album discusses themes relating to love and heartbreak, and Valerie explained its concept in an Instagram post, stating:

“I hope you find a piece of yourself on this album. Every track is a separate story, feeling, event, but they all flow into each other and become something bigger, something intangible yet important. Please let it into your life.”

The record opens with the hauntingly beautiful “I Want It All” — an a capella track that’s composed entirely of Valerie’s delicate vocal harmonies and describes having the ability to obtain anything that you want because you know that you deserve it with the exception of love, as it is still unattainable for you and only exists in your dreams.

The rest of the album’s first half consists of contemporary pop songs like “Timezones” — an anthemic track about a long-distance relationship; “City” — a tearful acoustic ballad that sees Valerie cutting off a toxic ex; “There for You” — a sweet bop about wanting to be there to support your partner; and “Made It to Your House” — a seductive track that depicts a passionate, late-night liaison.

In contrast, the second half sports more experimental tracks, such as “City II” — an ethereal interlude that continues the narrative first introduced on “City”; the second single, “Underwater” — a wavy song about wanting more out of a relationship; “Rose Terrace” — a warm, glittery electro pop-inspired bop and the most optimistic love song on the album; and the closing track, “Love It & Do It” — a waltzy masterpiece in which Valerie sings about being caught in a cycle that causes her to return to the dark places from her past and repeat her old mistakes over and over again.

First & Foremost is an absolutely stunning body of work and a very impressive debut project for Valerie, who’s already proven herself as someone to watch out for because if she continues in this direction, she’s bound to find success in the mainstream pop world.

First & Foremost is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream First & Foremost on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/2bXiQONqT6Gjzp4hpTUMhW?si=LlJtz_P7QdOHvmDQwSZTUg 

Watch the lyric video for “Underwater”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg7aJkt4J1Q

Valerie in the lyric video for “Underwater”.