Vance Joy, the summer-sensation singer-songwriter is perhaps most well-known for his admittedly delightful 2013 single, “Riptide.” Despite the cultural impact of “Riptide" on amateur ukulele players everywhere, the rest of Vance Joy’s work sort of slips into the shadows. “Nation of Two” is James Keogh’s sophomore album.
Much like the sound of his previous album, Vance Joy has returned with his signature ukulele and an unwinding summertime vibe. Though, in full honesty, most of this album feels merely average, and there is not much to enjoy beyond some generic indie folk. While Keogh’s voice and ukulele are unique to his sound, the better moments seem to come out with more exuberant songwriting.
Almost every track on the album ambiguously melts into one soft, warm haze. It’s very calming, and sometimes pretty romantic, such as with “Alone with Me”, or “I’m with You”. However, the only place Vance Joy actually makes his statement is with about four highlight tracks that you can tack onto your road-trip playlist. “One of These Days” and “Saturday Sun” are almost like diamonds in the rough, bringing out the kick, and lending themselves to windows rolled down on that car ride. “Like Gold” and “Lay it On Me” were the two singles released far earlier and are fun - effectively giving better musical character. Vance Joy’s songwriting has really stepped up its game in this little sector, and it’s the best example of his capabilities in music. “Lay it On Me” is probably the best take off the entire album.
Unless you have an infatuation with Keogh’s warm voice and its delicate quiver (in which case “Nation of Two” provides handfuls of excitement), this album is no more than decent, where all the best tracks are handpicked from the pile. Most importantly though, “Riptide” now has a posse of subordinate songs.
For Listeners of:
Mumford & Sons