It’s been a turbulent year for Joy Williams. The abrupt end of Civil Wars dominated the media spotlight as marriage overhauls, childbirth and family illness were overlooked. Christy Ku reviews her debut solo album, which is worlds away from her folk roots, as the new rhythm she’s discovered promises great things to come.
29 July 2015, Columbia
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Civil Wars has ended and Joy Williams emerges with her first solo album since the split. Williams has been steadily collecting nominations and awards over the years. Now, she steps away from the folk sounds of her former duo and presents an emotive, intimate album as her walls crumble.
Full of water metaphors with references to holy water, drowning and rivers, the music drifts – and keeps on drifting, anchored down only by the drums. Whilst the music is beautiful, it can float away without grabbing your attention.
“I could tell the truth about you leaving, but that’s not what a good woman does”
The album is about her own personal experiences and how she feels about what it means to be a woman in this modern age. Naming the album Venus is quite clichéd, but fortunately the lyrics are generally poetic and lovely. Williams is a powerhouse with a beautifully clear voice and her vocal range flows from purring lows to clear highs.
Some tracks can feel repetitive or directionless. However, most of the tracks are strong; ‘Woman (Oh Mama)’ has a strong organic sound, built from chants, stomps and hand claps as it calls for women to rise. ‘What a Good Woman Does’ is a wave that builds, threatening to break on the shore and reveal – something. There is a sense of danger as she broadcasts a warning over the piano and strings; “I could tell the truth about you leaving/But that’s not what a good woman does”. ‘Welcome Home’ sounds cinematic, her angelic voice rising over distant drums to welcome back someone dear.
‘Venus’ is an album where Williams is still finding her own individual sound. She is clearly extremely talented, and it’s only a matter of time before she creates something truly astonishing.