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A singer’s post-Civil Wars reconstruction doesn’t stick

joy williams

The tension between brooding country boy John Paul White and recovering Christian-pop singer Joy Williams gave the Civil Wars’ smoldering folk rock an archetypal sexiness. Williams’ first solo set following their split is archetypal, too — a woman dusts herself off for a journey of reinvention that feels very Eat, Pray, Love. The LP’s gospel-flavored synth-pop is invitingly adventurous, but Williams can’t hold the space like her touchstones here. See “Woman (Oh Mama),” a chant recalling Nina Simone that needs more dynamics and grit. Yet leaner arrangements (“The Dying Kind”) showcase a fragile, potent voice that still haunts.


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