I don’t know much about the trade relationship between Canada and the US, but if High Valley is indicative of the quality of country music up north, Canada can export as much of it as they want down here.
High Valley is an Alberta-based duo (originally a trio) that has been recently finding some traction on the Canadian charts, scoring eight Top 10 hits since 2013. While similar success on the US charts has been elusive, the duo scored a moderate breakthrough with “Make You Mine,” a #5 hit in 2014 that reached #17 on the US chart two years later. The duo is taking the same approach with “She’s With Me,” a #6 hit in Canada from 2015 that is now getting an official single release in the US…and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys improve on that #17 peak.
The production opens as an uptempo, bluegrass-tinged track driven by hand-clap percussion and a prominent banjo melody, starting the track off with a lot of energy before segwaying into a more-modern sound featuring real drums and electric guitars. The bright guitar tones establish a very upbeat and positive atmosphere, and the banjo’s role as the song’s melodic foundation gives the track an organic flavor that helps it stand out from the crowd. (This is not the token banjo of the Bro-Country era—this thing is truly a key piece of the mix, and for the most part it’s rolling just the way Earl Scruggs intended.) The song doesn’t rely on minor chords the way “Make You Mine” does, which gives it a strong sense of positivity, and you can’t help but smile as you listen to it.
Vocally, lead singer Brad Rempel delivers a solid performance, with good flow and a boatload of charisma. While his voice is covered in some strange effects (and that stuttered “me-ee-ee-ee-ee” at the end of the first chorus just sounds awkward), his delivery comes across as earnest and believable—he sounds like he’s over the moon over his significant other, and just can’t wait to share his joy. The harmony between Rempel and his brother Curtis doesn’t exactly set the world on fire (most of the time it’s not even noticeable), but it doesn’t detract from the song either. At the end of the day, the singer’s goal is to pass along the fun’s they’re having to the listener, and the vocals here do the job perfectly.
The writing here is nothing groundbreaking, as the song is your typical “my girl is awesome; let me tell you about her” track. What sets it apart, however, is the way if deftly avoids the many traps that artists often fell in to during the Bro-Country era:
- There’s a refreshing lack of diminutive references to the woman in the song. The word “girl,” despite my description above, never actually appears in this song, and the only mention of “baby” is when the narrator mentions that she uses it to refer to him.
- There are no creepy or misogynistic undertones to the song. The narrator chooses to focus on the woman’s love and devotion rather than her physical attributes, and the lyrics gives off the vibe that this is a consensual relationship, not a one-sided one.
- The narrator comes across as a likable individual, emphasizing their disbelief that this woman chooses to love them rather than putting on an arrogant, braggadocios air about the whole thing. Part of this is due to Brad Rempel’s delivery, but the song’s smart word choice plays a role as well.
While the song gets a bit repetitive by the end (we get it, she’s amazing), it’s a minor quibble about a song that leaves you feeling pretty good when it’s over.
Overall, “She’s With Me” is an enjoyable track, and something you can hear and enjoy without any reservations. The sound feels organic, the lyrics feel respectful, and the vocals convey a strong sense of joy and happiness. The US and Canada may have their differences over the dairy and timber industries, but nobody can complain when music like this comes across the border.
Rating: 7/10. Definitely check this song out.