'Acadie', Allysha Joy: Review
The relationship between Melbourne and Britain is gathering more momentum. 30/70’s ‘Elevate’ is another in a burgeoning production line of successful Melbourne grown pressings on tastemaker Bradley Zero’s Peckham label Rhythm Section. The exchange of neo-soul and jazz between the two cities is becoming an increasingly productive relationship, the latest evidence of this happy marriage comes in the form of Allysha Joy’s first solo record ‘Acadie’ released this Friday (21st) on Matthew Halsall’s near legendary and remarkably consistent imprint, ‘Gondwana’.
Following the blazing trail set by Hiatus Kaiyote 30/70 find themselves at the vanguard of the neo soul juggernaut and ‘Acadie’ in many ways feels like an extension of their work. In many ways, it is. Recorded over a three year period with Horatio Luna, Ziggy Zeitgeist and Danika Smith (Josh Kelly on horns) at Day Spa Studios in Northcote, ‘Acadie’ fits into the 30/70 canon very neatly. There is an overwhelming sense of attention and care put into the record from Joy, not only is it the result of three years of labour, but with engineering assistance from Thhomas, Joy co mixed and mastered the record herself.
The influences on ‘Acadie’ are immediately apparent, poetry and the spoken word take a more central role on the record and there is a greater representation of hip-hop styles. Naturally, the lyrical content is rich in meaning, dissecting what can be drawn from the music would be an infinite academic exercise where endless parallels can be drawn, each of which will speak to people in different ways. Throughout the record she experiments with changes of pace, most dramatically in the flagship single ‘Know Your Power’, a jazz influenced steamroller epic switches in the final third to a slower, ‘Check 4 u’ reminiscent RnB pace, the lyrics “a woman’s purpose is to be worshiped” and “know your power, don’t dilute it” take centre stage with immense effect. Akala was a personal favourite. Pensive and peaceful with notes from gospel music, Joy’s colossal voice wears a different hat, with backing vocals and a restrained section behind her the song feels incredibly honest and fragile, my pick from the album. The following track, ‘Doom’ an instrumental number is a welcome break from the vocal dominant soul music on the record and is reminiscent of the Dilla records Joy had been influenced by in the creation of Acadie.
Allysha Joy is a very rounded, diverse musician and in Acadie it shows. An extremely conscious record, the album has enough to differentiate itself from the growing norms of the genre’s she operates in. Her lyrical content alone is enough to become lost in, the pacing of the album and the slight nuances in form with nods to hip hop and jazz are gracefully fused with potent lyrics and soul. The result is a moving and constantly engaging listening experience, in Acadie there’s a lot to like for a lot of different reasons and a lot to suggest the traffic of neo-soul and jazz artists coming from Melbourne is not thinning out, it’s getting thicker and Allysha Joy is towing the line.
Allysha Joy’s debut album ‘Acadie’ is released on Friday the 21st via Gondwana Records. Pre-orders available.
Full interview with Allysha Joy to follow.