Joy Williams is no stranger to reinvention. Her latest solo album sees the singer-songwriter enter what feels like the third stage of her 14-year musical career. Moving on from her start as a teenaged Christian-pop artist and her Grammy award-winning turn as one half of now-defunct folk duo the Civil Wars, Williams steps into grownup pop territory on Venus.
The album, her fourth, tackles “acceptance and transcendence and forgiveness and learning to let go of things that don’t serve you and hold on to the things that do,” as Williams said in a Guardian interview earlier this year. She uses the album to reflect on the changes brought on by new motherhood, life after the Civil Wars’ dramatic breakup, and her father’s cancer diagnosis and death – all topics delivered in a style that straddles the Civil Wars’ gothic folk sound, and her more defiant foray into lively pop.
Lead single Woman (Oh Mama) shows off this new sonic direction, while Until the Levee showcases the personal struggle that rests at the core of the album. “Until the Levee was the second of almost 80 songs I wrote for Venus,” Williams says. “It’s the beginning glimmer of me finding that fight from within, to grow stronger from navigating through the pain, not away from it. This was one of the first moments I chose to stand there, determined to get through to the other side.”
Have a listen using the player below, and let us know what you make of Williams’s cathartic, pop venture.