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[Album Review] Vance Joy – Nation Of Two

James Keogh, better known by his stage name Vance Joy, became an international success with ‘Riptide’, a multi-platinum single from his debut album Dream Your Life Away. Now, Nation Of Two is the follow-up to Joy’s breakthrough debut album, released in 2014. It’s been almost four years but it’s hard to forget those sounds and tracks. He is a very unique artist and his folk sound acts as a sensational souvenir to the ears.

After almost four years, listening to Vance’s vocals on ‘Call If You Need Me’ still presents great satisfaction. His lyrics are also poetic; the track gives motivation to listen to the rest of the album. On ‘Lay It On Me’, he does something new with the instrumentation in the chorus – a sound he hasn’t used in a lot of his songs. ‘We’re Going Home’ has an alternative rock sound and again, he keeps the chorus interesting and creative.

‘Saturday Sun’ is introduced by the familiar ukulele sound he is known for. He takes us through a change in his flow with a hint of folk pop. The addition of the “Ba ba ba ba” chant is just one example of how interesting the choruses can be. Just when ‘Take Your Time’ seems to be not as rhythmic as the previous tracks on the album, he pulls a surprise in the outro which will have any listener hooked. With his lyrics, he paints an image of the love he has for someone and wondering if she feels the same about him. The strum of the guitar and his soft voice on ‘I’m With You’ will certainly strike a chord. Vance has always had the ability to change his pitch and it’s enjoyable when he experiments with his voice. On ‘Like Gold’, a grieving Vance Joy reminisces on a failed relationship.

Other than his smooth vocals on ‘Alone With Me’, his use of the drum on this track adds a unique sound to his discography. He uses the drums to set the tempo for this song while the rest of the instrumentation builds up. At the end, there is an intermix of elements that gives this track a great finish and makes it one of the best songs on the album. The blend of his vocals and guitar riffs on ‘Crashing Into You’ are outstanding. He’s not “falling for” her but “crashing into her”. In the chorus, he explains why he’s so much in love with her:

You came along
You light up my days, my personal sun
Showing me all the ways I could fall
You made me feel new

He includes elements such as guitar riffs, subtle drum beats, heavy bass guitar and subtle brass sound on ‘One Of These Days’. His vocals and lyrics are additions to the musical beauty of this track. The combination has made this track compelling, a track a lot of people will have on repeat. ‘Little Boy’ has a different theme than the rest of the album. He talks about being a scared of certain things as child who liked to be around his parents because he felt secure with them. Although now a man, he’s still a scared little boy inside. He talks about his love for his parents and his fear of them ever getting divorced. He also talks about getting separated from them.

He describes his thoughts about the ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ movie and how they made him re-think certain things with his girl. He sings about heartbreak on ‘When We Start’. In his first verse, he describes her as a “tree” who protects him. In his second verse he expresses his disappointment in the tree (her) as he sings:

Big trees fall all the time
They crack and sound like lightning
Leave a big space in your sky when they fall
When they fall a long way

This is a very impressive track from the strum of the first note to the last.

The instrumentation, lyrics and vocals on this album form a perfect triangle. He has clearly experimented with sounds and with his voice. The poetic lyrics on this album cannot be overlooked. He also displays a dynamic tempo which makes his songs unique and interesting. Every chorus on this album has a unique element which is one of the reasons why this album is a masterpiece.

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