Joy Williams — Venus

The journey that led to the release of Joy Williams’s new album, Venus, was an eventful one, marked by the separation of The Civil Wars. The four-time Grammy award-winning duo, comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White, split in 2012 after citing “irreconcilable differences”.

In recent interviews about the experiences which gave rise to the songs that we hear on Venus, Joy talks candidly about the personal challenges and sadnesses in her life over the past few years, from losing her father to Stage 4 cancer to coping with troubles in her marriage and adjusting to becoming a new mother. In this detailed song-by-song look at the album, Joy discusses the inspiration and the writing process behind each song.

When I heard the first single, Woman (Oh Mama), from Joy’s new album, it wasn’t what I expected. As a Civil Wars fan, I thought that their Americana country/folk influence would feed into Venus. However, Joy is venturing into new territory with her solo album: The Guardian describes it as “grownup pop”.

As a listener, you sense that Joy has done a lot of work, personally and professionally, to move into a different space. This has made her music stronger and although Venus has been described as “pop”, the eleven tracks on the newly released album are not mindless pop tunes: they are songs with lyrics about pain, letting go and having the courage to work through change.

Joy’s voice has extraordinary strength and beauty and Venus encompasses a range of genres, from the upbeat tribal sound of Woman (Oh Mama) to the quieter piano melody of What a Good Woman Does. “Hear me/I haven’t lost my voice without you near me,” Joy sings in the latter track, which clearly refers to The Civil Wars parting ways.

Joy certainly hasn’t lost her voice! Venus is an exciting new musical direction for her, with powerful and inspirational lyrics sung by a stunning voice.

Venus is out now. You can find it at Amazon and other music sellers.

Amazon US: VENUS

Amazon UK: Venus

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase on Amazon via one of the links above, a small percentage will go toward my graduate school fund. This doesn’t cost you anything.

Advertisements

What I’m listening to this weekend

I bought Lana Del Rey’s CD today and I look forward to putting it onto my iPod and listening to the whole album.

Somehow I missed last summer’s hype about Lana Del Rey which isn’t really surprising as I tend to avoid music in the charts because most of it isn’t to my taste. But when I heard her song, Video Games, played on the radio a couple of months ago I loved the song and wanted to find out what other songs she sings. And I have since become aware of the continuing hype that surrounds this singer. I am also aware that a lot of the media are delighting in ‘Lana-bashing’ and there is a huge amount of bitchy criticism floating around but I enjoy her music; I think she is a fresh, new talent who deserves to be applauded, not torn apart by the media.

This is the title track from her album. Take a listen and see what you think…

Video linked from YouTube. No copyright infringement intended – I do not own any rights over this video.

Taylor Swift/The Civil Wars

This hauntingly beautiful song is very different to anything she has sung before. It features the twice-Grammy nominated duo, The Civil Wars, who wrote the song with Swift for the upcoming movie, The Hunger Games. I don’t know anything about The Hunger Games but I like this song!

Go have a listen!

Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars (video linked from YouTube – no copyright infringement intended)

Music: “Holocene” by Bon Iver

For this weekend’s tune, I decided to share a beautiful song and a beautiful music video with you.

This music video was filmed in Iceland and the peacefulness of the scenery really blends with the song. Bon Iver (derived from bon hiver, which is French for “have a good winter”, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Iver) is an indie folk band and although not all of their tracks are my kind of music, I heard this song playing on the radio and love it.

(video embedded from the official Bon Iver YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/boniver)

“I’m just a summer girl”: Country Strong movie review

I just watched the movie, Country Strong, and I feel let-down by it. Some movies I watch leave me with varying emotions but the only lingering trace of Country Strong is the extremely catchy tune, Summer Girl, which Leighton Meester’s character sings in the movie.

I am a fan of country music and so I settled down to watch Country Strong, expecting a plot-driven movie with some pleasant interludes of country tunes. I got the catchy music scenes; in fact, these took up a large part of the movie. But the plot was sorely lacking.

Country Strong focuses on a country music star, Kelly Canter (Gywneth Paltrow), who has just gotten out of rehab, as well as an up-and-coming country music singer, Chiles Stanton (played by Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl fame).  A few romantic entanglements are thrown into the mix by the arrival of ambitious song-writer, Beau ( Garrett Hedlund). Kelly’s husband/career manager, James (Tim McGraw), completes the character line-up.

However, the characters failed to successfully hook me into the story. I can’t fault the acting; Paltrow, Meester, Hedlund and McGraw all performed well and the movie looks and sounds excellent. But I wasn’t left feeling satisfied at the end and my verdict is simply “meh”. Country Strong is not a bad movie but it is not a great one either because, in my opinion, it needs something extra. Maybe it was the lack of suspense  which meant that my attention wandered at times. Overall, I think the screenplay was too muddled and it would have been better if we had more focus on character tensions and less of the syrupy clichés. It just didn’t convince me.

My verdict: 5.5/10.

Videos sourced from YouTube.