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[YEAR END 2009] Album Of The Year: Joy Jones – Godchild

18/12/2009

Afro-beat lullabies, future jazz protest songs and electronic hymns

There was quite a buzz amongst those ‘in the know’ regarding the release of Joy Jones’ debut album. The blogs and twitter were full of references, info and song snippets, each building anticipation for the full release. When the album did drop in July this year, it was met with critical acclaim, many praising Joy’s fresh, progressive take on soul, jazz and dub-step. The slightly ‘electro’ sound embodied on the album shouldn’t really have come as a surprise given that Daz-I-Kue (from Bugz In The Attic) had a hand in it’s production, and had worked with Joy previously. I think the real appeal of the album though was not  just it’s progressive/alternative-soul sound, but Joy’s passionate yet subtle vocal delivery and the varied, personal subject matter. In a year which saw ‘bland’ and ‘stagnant’ take on whole new meanings, Godchild was an original and honest breath of fresh air.

The first time I pressed play on this album I was hooked. The intro explains what it is your about to hear and prepares you for what is indeed a ‘Joy Ride’ through Ms. Jones’ thoughts, feelings, perspectives and emotions. As already mentioned the subject matter on Godchild is as varied as the sonic-styles it employs, ‘Hollywood’ is a scathing commentary on media and fame, but sung sweetly over a staccato beat , ‘Glass Boxes’ is a beautiful jazz-style track which explores inner vs. outer beaut, and ‘Over’ sees Joy’s vocal altered with the much overused autotune, however this is far from the usual mess we have come to expect from such tracks. The song is an emotionally charged electro-hymn containing the pleading refrain “tell me how to get over you my dear, i just want to move forward without a care”. The deeply emotional lyrics combined with the distant, cold-sounding autotuned vocal add another welcome dimension to the track. The final cut I’ll mention here is the inspirational ‘Beautiful’, which for me was a definite highlight and also one of the most positive songs of the year. Joy talks of her own experiences, and the experiences of others, in striving to conform to a modern standard of beauty, and her realistion that “it’s time for this madness to stop”.

Godchild is certainly the most memorable debut album of the last few years, and in my opinion is up there with other classic debuts such as Who Is Jill Scott and Baduizm. It is sclear that this is an album born of a passion and a respect for music that stands Joy in good stead to become one of the shining stars of the soul movement.

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