“You are so afraid to say anything wrong that you are risking not saying anything at all. You’ve got to be brave. If you’re feeling mad as hell, then we’re going to write a mad-as-hell song. If you’re feeling broken beyond measure, we’re going to write a broken-beyond-measure song.”—Matt Morris on a conversation with Joy Williams
Have you ever been afraid to say what is in your heart? Have you ever censored yourself so much that you’ve forgotten what it was like to truly express an opinion outside of your immediate circle? Have you ever lived your life in a way that didn’t feel like it was authentically you? If you answered yes, then I think you will have an inkling of what Joy Williams is trying to express in her new album, VENUS. I didn’t listen to The Civil Wars much, prior to listening to this album. I knew they had broken up, but their departure from making music didn’t affect me because their melodies had yet to connect to my spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I was curious to know about them more after the myriad of accolades they received, but it was never more than in passing. Knowing that, here is my review of Joy Williams’ next solo venture: VENUS which is set for release on June 29.
At first listen, I could hear heartbreak. I heard sadness. I heard vulnerability. I heard honesty. I heard hope. I heard bravery. I heard courage. But this album isn’t an anthem for overcoming pain, nor is it one championing the heartbroken spirit. It is a collection of songs of one woman’s journey out of her own darkness, defining herself, and accepting her truth—as she defines it. Acceptance of self is a beautiful thing. Many of the songs are quite relatable and are beautifully arranged. Initially, I didn’t understand some of what she was singing about, so I dug into her personal history a little more. After twenty minutes lost into a Wikipedia wormhole, I learned that in her time since the departure of The Civil Wars, she’s been enjoying her time as a mother. She remains married to her husband and her former bandmate is married to his wife and has children himself. The duo that made up the Civil Wars met at a writing camp and shared a creative connection. The fruits of their labors were beautiful, but you know what, it was a relationship that had an eventual demise and deserved to be mourned. In the passing of such relationships, there exists a space of full of ache and lamentation, where remnants of all of the broken relationships from your past exist. And so I listened again with different ears. I better understood the pain she was feeling, as well as that optimism. This was especially evident in “One Day I Will.”
“Perfect is just not good enough” is probably my favorite line in this album. You will find it on the fifth track: “Not Good Enough.” I can see “Until the Levee” turned into a dance club remix with the powerful vocals and strong lyrics, like “drink the lonely down” and “stand here in the ache until the levee of my heart breaks.”
This album grew on me more and more after each listen. She has a beautiful voice and one that deserves to be heard. If you give it a listen, I hope you enjoy it, even if it isn’t until the third or fourth time you listen.
Find her online:
- Amazon: http://bit.ly/VenusAlbumJoyWIlliams
- Official Joy Williams website: www.joywilliams.com
- Twitter - @joywilliams
- Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/joywilliamsmusic
- YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/JoyWilliamsVEVO
- Instagram - https://instagram.com/joy__williams/
**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.**