Adult Contemporary, Music Review

Music Review: Joy Williams – ‘Venus’

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Set to be released at the end of this month, Joy Williams’ later album, Venus, takes a close at her life over the last two and a half years, weaving into each layer of each track the emotions evoked by the experiences that have shaped her into the woman she is today. The songs are about life and loss, about love, hope, and fears—about the very things that define everyone’s life.

The album opens up with the big, throbbing, and catchy “Before I Sleep”, an almost ethereal yet dynamic introduction into what Williams called an intimate and authentic album. This is a song to play loudly on a good system, and would fit quite well on a soundtrack to a movie at the point where the protagonist is about to do something big and out of character, going beyond him/herself to achieve something important.

The emotional rollercoaster of “Sweet Love of Mine” is followed by the dynamism of lead single “Woman (Oh Mama)” released last April. The dynamic, up-tempo, drum driven beat mix in with synths and Williams’ powerful vocals in a bubbly and radio friendly track. Williams explained that the song is about the strength of womanhood, “what it’s like to experience the beauty, the spark and strength of what it is to be inside your skin. It’s a song with energy and fire. I wanted to own the complexity and the three-dimensional aspect of what it is to be a woman.” The undercurrents of African beats and the reggae flavours give this track a very dynamic and distinctive feel.

The slow, piano-driven ballad “One Day I Will” comes in sharp contrast to the previous track. It features at times a sort of dissonance between the melodic and instrumental layers, perhaps a reflection of the carefully crafted lyrics. Although “Not Good Enough” picks up the beat again, it remains quite introspective, asking a question many a woman no doubt asks herself in this day and age.

Heartache seems to be the topic of next couple of tracks. A delicately played piano drives “What a Good Woman Does” accompanies Williams into a track reminiscent of power ballads by legendary female vocalists of the 1990s, befitting the topic broached—the painful end of a relationship. “Until the Levee” adds a few layers to a similar story of heartache also broached in “You Loved Me”. The dissonant violins and vocals that open “The Dying Kind” fall behind a piano driven melody, creating a ballad that seems to swell but never reach its peak.

The penultimate track, “Till Forever”, is another power ballad reminiscent of those typically gracing radio waves in the late 1990s, its delicate melody and Williams’ at times breathless vocals telling a story of love and hope. Venus ends on a big, hopeful, and positive note with “Welcome Home”.

Williams has a beautiful voice and is talented vocalist and created in Venus a good, mostly sad album full of poignant lyrics describing universal emotions ending on a note of self- acceptance. It’s available on pre-order on both Amazon and iTunes. Williams’ most recent videos can be streamed on YouTube. More information is available on her official website as well as on Facebook. She is also active on Twitter and on Instagram.

I participated in the Joy Williams Venus album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

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