Anyone familiar with The Civil Wars has anticipated new music from the duo since their self-titled sophomore album. Sadly, they have gone their separate ways. Joy Williams, the female half of The Civil Wars, draws on that theme starting with the title of the album,VENUS. Her vocals are recognizable from The Civil Wars, as are elements of the melodies. But she’s been influenced by pop music’s integration of electronic beats and synthesizers.
Lyrically, she’s taken up the themes of feminism, especially in “Woman (Oh Mama)” and “What a Good Woman Does.” In manifesto form she protests, “Woman make/Woman take/Woman sleep/Woman breathe/Woman carry the burden of knowledge/Woman always the one to be blamed/Woman shoulder the men of the nation/Woman free you from sorrow and shame.”
It’s hard to ignore the allusions to the break with her Civil Wars partner John Paul White, although it also works as a lament for the universal experience of disconnection from a relationship. This is most powerful on “One Day I Will,” “You Loved Me,” and “Welcome Home.” The audience travels with Joy as they leave behind the nostalgic folk duo and enter into an exhilarating new future. (Columbia)