Album Review: Vance Joy - 'Nation Of Two'

Vance Joy, the multi-platinum Australian indie folk singer/songwriter is back with his second studio album, ‘Nation of Two’. 

The album is a follow-up to Joy’s 2014 debut, ‘Dream Your Life Away’. In a press release, he describes ‘Nation of Two’ as a perfectly self-contained couple; their world beginning and ending at the bed they share, the car they ride in, or any other place where they’re together… the idea that their love for each other gives them bearings; a point of reference that makes sense of life.

The record - it’s title inspired by a Kurt Vonnegut quote - features thirteen songs and introduces tales of love and longing anchored by Joy’s delicate storytelling, masterful instrumentation and compelling vocals.

The first track, ‘Call If You Need Me’, is a hypnotising ballad about two people finding their way back to each other and was recently released as a single to coincide with the announcement of Joy’s biggest headline tour to date.

Lay It On Me’, the lead single from the album is an aural assault on the senses with its unrelenting rhythm that builds as the song progresses. Similarly, ‘We’re Going Home’ starts off as a subtle ballad that develops into a chromatic layered masterpiece with an infectious chorus.

Inspired by the beaches of Malibu, ‘Saturday Sun’ is upbeat and gives a nod to Noah And The Whale; while ‘Take Your Time’ is a stirring love letter about being open to love and letting the other person in - “I’ll let you figure me out, tear all my fences down” croons Joy. The relationship progression ensues on ‘I’m With You’ with its simple melody and haunting refrain, while ‘Like Gold’, the second single from the album, is a rousing break-up song that echoes elements of The Lumineers with its fervent fingerpicking and rhythmic stomps.

The sweet and charming cadence on ‘Alone With Me’ perfectly encapsulates the feeling of falling for someone, with the sentimentality continuing on ‘Crashing Into You’. Whereas ‘One Of These Days’ is a thought-provoking song with a 90s edge that talks about giving up the chase.

The Ben Howard-esque ‘Little Boy’ is an uninteresting stocking filler of a track with no real substance to it. While ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ is a quirky number about childhood holidays and making the most of life. The final song on the album, is the calming banjo lullaby ‘Where We Start’ that leaves you very tranquil.

In a world where sophomore albums are commonly rushed out the door, it’s good to see Joy has taken his time with this. The result is a fresh and satisfying thematic album that will undoubtedly play well during this summer’s festival season.

Vance Joy's album 'Nation of Two' is out the 23rd February 2018, and has a European tour lined up, hitting the UK in March 2018.

Words by Marijana Mladenić