Joy Williams Gives Catharatic + Refreshed Introduction to Her New Sound at NYC Concert
Since the Civil Wars parted ways in 2014, fans were left to wonder whether they would ever hear from them again -- even as solo artists. Well, Joy Williams showed that she is back with not only a new sound but also a rejuvenated sense of self when she played in New York City on Thursday night (May 14).
Stepping onto the stage that was filled with sheer backdrops -- that we would later find to be the screens for her elaborate and sometimes intergalactic lighting -- Williams looked relaxed and had a smile on her face throughout the night. While we were expecting something that packed a punch, she started her set with a ballad called "What a Good Woman Does." Once she got that out of the way, she shrugged off any nerves and performed a number of new tracks that had the lyrical heart of what she was known for with the Civil Wars, but now it was injected with drum machines, orchestral synths and the occasional electronic beat. Considering her acoustic background, this was something that no one expected -- but quickly enjoyed.
Despite the fact that her former band didn't break up on the best of terms, Williams acknowledged her time with the Civil Wars by performing "Dust to Dust" and "The One That Got Away." She couldn't just perform them without making a little cheeky comment, though. "You guys are hearing a lot of new stuff," she said, "so I will do something more familiar to you from this one time that I happened to be in this particular duo."
Toward the end of her set, she took a moment to thank the crowd for being so attentive and even joked that it felt like she was just singing in her living room -- if it only had two fully stocked bars. But jokes aside, she talked about how she's gone through a number of things during the making of VENUS, from the breakup of the Civil Wars to the birth of her son, Miles, and the cancer diagnosis and death of her father.
"There's something about starting over again and starting new that's scary as hell, and I'm sure you guys know how this feels like in your own way. Well I think you do," she said. "I'd like to think that we all have these moments that you think it's going to go that way and stay that way for a really long time, and then it turns on a dime. And that happened to me in a lot of ways, and this record is a way of healing through that time."
With her album written in Venice Beach, Calif., the laid back, beachy vibes really did transform her sound, especially on her lead single, "Woman (Oh Mama)." And although the recording can leave you a bit bewildered by where Williams is going in her music, her live performance of the track, along with the others in her set last night, proved that this new direction makes so much sense. While we might feel a bit nostalgic for those acoustic guitar-driven moments, Williams is showing us that she is a newly refreshed and confident singer who's ready to take the stage again.
Check out photos of Joy Williams -- as well as her opener, Misty Boyce, who also serves as keyboardist and backup singer in the band -- below: