With chords of familiarity and relaxed, soothing vocals, Australian artist Vance Joy puts out a 45-minute breath of fresh air through the release of his second studio album, “Nation of Two” on Feb. 23, 2018.
“Call If You Need Me” is a everything you would expect from a sweet love song. The galloping strum pattern propels the song forward, as does the unifying theme of the protagonist’s love “coming home” again. The shortest song on the album, “Call If You Need Me” ‘is an introduction to everything “Nation of Two” is — a continuation of Vance Joy’s indie folk perfection.
Nearly half of the album was released as singles, including the energized “Lay It On Me.” Though the song is the second on his latest album, Vance Joy said that the melody has been bugging him for years on end. “I wrote the guitar riff for this song in 2012 [and] I tried to write lyrics to it for ages… the start of this year, it all came together,” he said. “Once you have the right lyrics and ingredients, the song comes together rather quickly.”
Though “We’re Going Home” starts slow, it picks up immediately after the pre-chorus. The drums are confident but not overly so, allowing Joy’s voice to carry. The song doesn’t back off after the bridge either, but rather comes to a climax, which makes the final chorus more dramatic and invigorated compared to how it began.
Another single from “Nation of Two,” “Saturday Sun” focuses on the emotions of meeting someone and the past struggles of being alone. Despite gloomy lines like “So tired of sleepin’ alone” and “So tired of eatin’ alone,” the track is overall bright and optimistic, especially as the chorus rolls around. Joy’s familiar use of the ukulele is as warm as the “Saturday sun” he sings about.
“I’m With You” is a lovely, slower ballad that boasts impressive imagery. With lines like “Sandy blonde hair, the way it came tumbling down, just like a waterfall,” it’s hard not to picture the story taking place during the duration of “I’m With You.” The pre-chorus offers a solid example of the protagonist’s adoration for his sweetheart, with the lines, “I was just coasting till we met” and “You remind me just how good it can get.”
Vance Joy has produced a number of charming love songs, like “Fire in the Flood” or “Mess is Mine.” In the case of “Like Gold,” the seventh song of “Nation of Two,” the track follows a relationship that didn’t end well. Joy sings about the heartbreak of a failed relationship with raw emotion, as shown with lines like “How we used to roar, like an open fire” and “But that’s history.” As a somber reflection on what was, “Like Gold” is an ideal song to listen to after a breakup or a general period of reminiscence.
“Bonnie & Clyde,” though self-explanatory thanks to the tile, uses the story of Bonnie and Clyde, the criminals who robbed and killed innocent people during the 1930s, as a metaphor for living life. The protagonist suggests in the chorus, “We might as well say what’s on our minds” followed with “’Cause there’s no waiting, no, when it’s your time to go.”
“Where We Start” has the capacity to please fans of folk music, as the track sounds less like an indie pop song and more like a slower, much quieter Mumford & Sons melody. The lyrics are pleasant and clever with cheeky lines, particularly “There’s people coming ‘round here soon” followed by “Everyone, act normal.”
Vance Joy’s second album, “Nation of Two,” presents itself like a good book. Most songs have a central plot, and there are characters, a protagonist and beautiful imagery. The album is thoughtful and not overbearing, with the total play time coming in at just under an hour. Overall, “Nation of Two” is the result of Joy doing what he does well and keeping his style consistent.