Album review: Joy Willams’s Venus is quietly beautiful and rewards repeat listening

Venus shows Joy Williams has moved on from the cataclysmic crash of the Civil Wars.

Venus by Joy Williams.
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Joy Williams


Three stars

We can thank the break-up of the Grammy Award-winning duo the Civil Wars for giving Joy Williams the space to write this rather affectingly downbeat album.

With more than a nod to the likes of Julia Stone, Tori Amos, Kate Bush and even a hint of an Elbow-like progression in The Dying Kind, Williams achieves a cathartic melancholy throughout. This is particularly evident in One Day I Will, which opens with the line "I'd love to write a happy song"; and the closing Welcome Home.

A former Christian recording artist, Williams admitted in interviews at having to deal with “a huge amount of change in my life, the obvious thing being the implosion of the Civil Wars”. That change is reflected in the lyrics, which are from the heart but not easily labelled.

One wonders if they are directed at former Civil Wars' partner John Paul White, or at her husband, Nate Yetton, who was also the band's manager. And does it matter? Venus is a quietly beautiful album that rewards repeated listening. While it doesn't explain the cataclysmic crash of the Civil Wars, it shows that Williams has moved on.