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    Album Review | POP

    Album review: Joy Williams, ‘Venus’

    There is something spine-tinglingly thrilling about “Venus,” the fourth full-length solo album from Joy Williams, but the first since the 2014 demise of her Grammy-winning roots duo Civil Wars. You can actually hear the California native, a former contemporary Christian-pop singer, discover who she is as she moves through this unsparingly intimate, deeply moving 11-song cycle. If fans and critics argued about which genre the Civil Wars should be slotted into — folk? country? Americana? — the debate should be less confusing now that Williams has fully embraced her inner Kate Bush (and Peter Gabriel and Portishead), zooming into the present with an ambient sound that elegantly threads together folk authenticity, pop instincts, and trip-hop grooves. Whether standing inside her aching heart in the dramatic “Until the Levee,” letting it bleed on the haunting piano ballad “One Day I Will,” or offering up a breathtaking “What a Good Woman Does,” Williams is never less than truthful. The album closes with the poignant “Welcome Home,” cementing the sense that Williams has found her own. (Out Tuesday)


    ESSENTIAL “What a Good Woman Does”