Folk musician Dolly Valentine has just released her debut album, How To Be Good, which has been produced by Grammy-nominated Ryan Hadlock (Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers). Dolly spoke with The Fountain about the LP as well as her plans for the remainder of 2020.

TF: You have a new single out, what has the reception been like to How To Be Good?

I’m receiving messages from listeners saying that the music is helping them and bringing them peace. That means the world to me. Making How to be Good was therapeutic and joyous, so I desire for others to find joy in it because I know it has that power. The music isn’t just for me, it’s messages are true for everyone and that’s the place I wrote it from. I trust that it will be found and loved. I have high hopes but no expectations. I love when fans of the music write to me but I also like to imagine people find it, enjoy it, and might not necessarily make their feelings public, you know? We live in a time where there is pressure to make everything public, but it’s also beautiful to just experience things without going on to portray them out loud.

TF: How would you sum it up in one sentence, it screams Nick Hornby novel to me? 

I hadn’t heard of that book until you asked this question, so I just looked it up. Sounds like an interesting book! Maybe I better read it.

In one sentence I’d say…How To Be Good is an album about your path towards a life of meaning, choosing to do things from a place of goodness, and learning to find peace and love inside yourself and in the world around you.

TF: Who do you look to and idolise when it comes to influences?

My name Dolly is taken from my grandmother’s name but people were asking me if it was from Dolly Parton, so I thought I’d better start watching interviews and performances of hers and wow, she has become a massive inspiration as a confident storyteller and musician. For this album, I channelled a little energy from the music of Tom Petty because it fit the mood. I wrote the album when I was living out of my van and travelling out west – living in places like Santa Fe, Colorado, and Wyoming so I was inspired by all those stories of the cowgirls of the old American west, the terrain, the mountains, being in love, and the highway! There’s an artist Donna Howell-Sickles who paints cowgirls and her figures inspire me. My life was all about horses until I was 15.

TF: What is your plan for the remainder of the year, after this release?

Who knows! This hasn’t been the best time for concrete plans. I’m currently living in Cape Cod at my family home and we started a small farm so it’s been nice to live slowly and consciously and not be travelling but I can’t wait to start performing and travelling again. I feel the winds of change blowing through so we’ll see what life has in store next! There’s a saying about “living in interesting times” that it’s both a blessing and a curse. I’m trying to make the best of it. I plan to live abroad when it’s possible. I want to live in a historical place with a connection to the land, and of course, keep making music! Always music! I do hope to spend more time in Scotland. I was there for a couple of months last summer and adored all the history. You have great castles! Hope I can play a show somewhere over there before too long.