album review: nation of two

Written by Kenna Miller

Vance Joy has been all but absent from the music world for nearly four years, but his second studio album entitled Nation of Two was definitely worth the wait. The Melbourne native really explored the soulful facets of his voice while producing deep, meaningful and seasoned lyrics. In some of the tracks, it feels like you’re actually in the moment he portrays. The lyrics and the soft and serene guitar tracks really hit you in the feels. It’s even more impressive that Vance Joy wrote or co-wrote the lyrics to every single song on this album.

Nation of Two is based on a couple that is entirely self-contained. Many of the tracks paint a picture of their individual lives, how they came together, stay together, and function together. It stays true to the idea that they only need each other, and that the reciprocated love helps them individually make sense of life and themselves.

“Lay It On Me”, the first single from the album is reminiscent of his earlier album, and the upbeat tune lays out the sound of the entire album. “Like Gold” was the second single released; it is a melancholy tune that looks back at the trials and tribulations that the couple has gone through. “Saturday Sun” was released as a single, and it is significantly more upbeat and happy. It recounts how the couple met, and captures the feelings of young love in sound form. Joy utilizes the ukulele and banjo to create an optimistic and positive vibe that is so uplifting.

“Crashing Into You” explores the idea of love with an intense rhythm and lyrics.  Vance Joy professes his love for the woman he is speaking to and explains how he fell so deeply for her. “Little Boy” is an interesting song that is a bit suspenseful. Joy shares the instance where he fell off of his bicycle when he was young and had to go to the hospital. The is original and unique and very personal to Joy, as shown in the lyrics. “Take Your Time” is riddled with vulnerable lyrics in which Joy asks the woman he loves to not give up on him. This track is incredibly honest and the folk genre Joy lives by is exemplified. “One of These Days” really balances out the album with a more neutral tone. This track encourages the listener to follow their dreams and to do some soul searching to end up in the right place- good advice for everyone.

Personally, I loved Joy’s previous work, God Loves You When You’re Dancing and Dream Your Life Away, but Nation of Two really takes the cake. It could be because I’m a little older and I’ve experienced more in life since Vance Joy released his early music, but I just connect with this album must more deeply and intimately. He really developed so many aspects of his music between Nation of Two and his past releases. He stays true to the indie-folk sound he created for himself, but somehow, it so much more real and intimate and vulnerable in this album.

Critics have been disappointed because the album is too central to the relationship Vance Joy portrays. They have also complained that the songs lack originality, they are too sentimental and that they are unsurprising, doing exactly as you would expect. Nevertheless, the album debuted as #10 on the Billboard Top 200 chart on March 5, 2018 in the U.S. and continues to do well. “Lay It On Me” has been nominated for three awards so far, but has not won any. Vance Joy is currently on his Nation of Two World Tour and will perform on July 8th at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

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