Cover art included, liner notes not included
Many know Joy Williams as one half of the four-time Grammy-winning folk-rock duo The Civil Wars. Until their 2012 hiatus (and eventual break up in August 2014) the singer-songstress with her long sea witch hair and Mona Lisa half-smile rarely revealed herself, except through the duo’s bruising and stark lyrics of romantic conflations and doomed intimacies.
On solo debut Venus she changes all that. No longer content to just conjure the antique grace of some mythic, bygone world, Williams was intent to actually pierce the veil of metaphor and an imagined history and tell a more honest, human story of one woman’s journey out of darkness.
Over 11 unstintingly honest songs, she unabashedly re-counts what occurred in her life over the past two and a half years. She doesn’t try to defend or explain, but in-stead tells a simple straightforward story of events, sparing no one, especially herself.
Over the arc of the album, the listener can feel Williams coming home to herself, after fearlessly excavating all the pain and confusion. In the end she can see her life from a great altitude, able to view her choices as an overarching geography that finally makes sense to her, freeing her to become the woman she needed to be. To find the parts of herself that were broken, becoming stronger and content to just be.
You might call it a coming-of-age album, but it is so much more than that. It shows how one woman has come to live her truth - the good, the bad, the petulant, the honorable - and in the end, shows all of us how to live our own.