Vance Joy - Nation of Two

Vance Joy – Nation of Two (Liberation Music)

Vance Joy (real name James Keogh), the Australia singer-songwriter with open hearted lyrics and a love for dynamics is back with a pop-centric sophomore album, Nation of Two. Joy came to fame a few years back with his hit song “Riptide,” which was released on a 2013 EP and his debut Dream Your Life Away in 2014. He got the attention of Australian radio station Triple J and was voted #1 in the prestigious “Triple J Hottest 100” in 2013. This is the equivalent of getting the #1 spot 6 weeks consecutively on TRL back in day on MTV. Then, of course, Taylor Swift covered “Riptide” and basically cemented his career for life. He opened for her on her 1989 Tour and received massive acclaim.  

On Nation of Two, in which he drew the cover art; an outline of two people in a relaxed position, there is a loose narrative about a couple whose lives revolve around each other. If you’re looking for wedding music, this would be a great place to look. The acoustic driven music features ukulele, guitar, banjo and Vance’s favorite; the guitalele (combo of guitar and uke). It also features lovely horn work that accents his whimsical songs on most of the album. 

Joy co-writes with Dan Wilson (Adele’s “Someone Like You”) and Dave Basset (Rachel Platten's “Fight Song”), so it seems like he is embracing this sentimental pop wave that is currently hitting the mainstream. However, there is more depth to be found on a Vance Joy song than some other very popular songs. These songs are stronger and more focused than his debut. The work with his co-writers sharpens his rawness, which works most of the time, but loses some of what made him so appealing. The lyrics are vaguer this time around, which makes things more relatable, but you don’t hear him taking any risks the way “Riptide” does lyrically. I think he’d do better to get a little stranger on the next one, although this record will sound good around the pool with the kids this summer. 

- Cindy Howes (Evening Mix)