Joy Williams, Venus as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth

If you’re searching for the Williams of the past you won’t find her here.

Artist: Joy Williams
Label: Columbia
Release Date: June 29, 2015
Duration:  11 tracks, 39:46

Venus has an earthy, heart-felt quality throughout. In many ways, this release represents the completed maturation of Joy Williams from innocent CCM to the desperate relationship songs of The Civil Wars. At first listen, this album is Civil Wars without the raw sound and male vocals of John Paul White. Very well produced, engineered and mixed, Venus may be Williams’ fullest, most mature release to date.

Soft, personal songs (“Sweet Love of Mine”, “You Loved Me”) are wrapped inside bigger works in Venus. The stage is set with “Before I Sleep”, a big, sweeping, broader sound with deeper, mature vocals. Hot and heart racing, “Woman (Oh Mama)” paints the picture of a woman’s world, the song has great pace to meet message, powerful.

Beginning with a light, wandering sound, “Not Good Enough” breaks into a strong musical message. “Until the Levee” gives a hard-hitting story of love lost. Light strings and strong piano meld with understated vocals to deepen the melodramatic feel of “The Dying Kind” being deep and sensual without losing compassion, a perfect match of music and vocals. “Till Forever” drips with sentiment and the finale, “Welcome Home” is a simple, sad and touching ballad of love so appropriate for the ending of this offering.

Venus is a fuller, more mature sound and message than any solo work Williams has produced to date. If you’re searching for the Williams of the past you won’t find her here.


Scott S Mertens