Vance Joy strums through ‘Nation of Two’

Kacie England, A&E Editor

     Love and nostalgia and ukuleles, oh my! Indie folk artist Vance Joy has released his second studio album and it is a reminiscent wonder.
James Keogh, more famously known by his stage name Vance Joy, debuted the collection of his latest works in late February. He dropped five coinciding singles leading up to the release of the album titled “Nation of Two.”

    Most remember Joy from his notable track “Riptide,” a summer phenomenon in 2013. When “Riptide” reached the ears of radio listeners, most were pleasantly surprised to hear the catchy lyrics set to the soft sound of a ukulele, different from any other song on the “Hot 100.” “Riptide” became the song of the summer, breaking the record for the most weeks in the top 100 of the ARIA Singles Chart at 120 weeks.

     With the release of this new collection of songs, Joy will never be able to hone the title “one-hit-wonder.” “Nation of Two” may not have received the same reception as “Riptide” did, but it is worthy of recognition with its continuation of beachy sensations and romantic lyrics.

     “Call If You Need Me” begins the album, a fitting first song choice. The song, an ode to young, passionate love, is riddled with poetic words such as, “loved you in the darkness and I loved you in fluorescent light.” This song sets the stage for the album, a collection of songs dedicated to sentimentalism, love and romanticism.

     The album sounds as if you’re speaking with an old friend, reminiscing of days of youth and young, infatuate love. Listening to the songs, you can’t help but to feel the nostalgia, for Joy sings songs that are relatable in their content.

     “Lay It On Me,” the first released single, is unlike most of Joy’s previous work, more boisterous and pop-like; so is another single, “We’re Going Home.” Both songs bring vibrancy and life to the collection of songs, two of Joy’s most up-beat tunes.

     A song like no other is number twelve on the track, “Bonnie & Clyde.” The beginning lyrics read, ” Our mouths were dry from the sugar and the popcorn/And we felt a little guilty/About spending that whole sunny day inside/The movie we were watching about Bonnie & Clyde.”
Listening to the song feels as if you are reading off of a novel’s page. Joy allows the listener to feel engrossed in the tale he is singing, a musical storyteller of sorts.

     Joy manages to make a song about watching a film tender and sweet.

     “Saturday Sun,” number four on the track list, wholeheartedly embraces the ukulele, just like “Riptide.” This song reminds listeners more of the Vance Joy from his previous album, “Dream Your Life Away.”

     The collection of songs that Joy has compiled all fit the same prototype: songs about your sweetheart. It is a challenging task for an artist to take one concept and shape it into something unique every time they create, but Joy does this and does it well.

     Ultimately, “Nation of Two” lives up to its name. It is an album that paints love and memories in all shades, capturing the power behind one’s desire and need to live in twos.