June West's music blooms like a desert wildflower, sweet and resolute in three-digit Sonoran heat. There are sun-baked flecks of Bonnie Raitt's country choogle, Motown soul, Stevie Nicks' rock and sway and Beatles-esque pop that feel lived-in like grooves on an old record. West was raised in Missoula, Mont. and is now based in Tucson, Ariz., and there's a journeying quest to her self-titled debut album: not to expand borders but identity, understanding and love.
"'Game to Claim' celebrates the excitement of new love, and how the vulnerability of opening one's heart can be more powerful than possessing the fantasy intimated by the other person," West tells NPR Music.
Structured like a classic soul side, West's elastic voice curleques around "Game to Claim" in a musical flirtation with Connor "Catfish" Gallaher's spindly guitar work. Similarly, the music video, directed by Drew Xanthopoulos, plays with desire, following West as she dances her way to a "Hawt Boiii" after getting a text message to meet him at the lake. "When she finally reaches their rendezvous, the lover doesn't show, and she is left all alone in a beautiful place," West says.
"Isn't it interesting how lust is the unstable foundation upon which people often make life-altering decisions and build crucial relationships?" West continues. "Yet somehow, the feeling conjured within eclipses the darker shades of what we mean when we say 'love' (i.e., jealousy, lack, rejection). This feeling is a bright shining light that both blinds and guides us through the abyss, urging us to take the risks necessary to learn more about ourselves and the world around us."
June West comes out Sept. 14 via Broken Circles (physical, digital).