Joyce Island - S/T EP

Released April 19, 2013

By Alex Southey

Underneath the churning radio-rock comes the rough, sweet voice of Lisa Joyce. The music, with its mix of blues, traditional rock, and pop, ends up tying together as something harsher and more exciting. Truly incredible is the swirling rhythm section on Mercy On Me, and the lead guitar on World Full of Pain - solos flying out whenever the vocals begin to falter.

The beginning of Forgiven has a traditional rock structure that could have become repetitive after only two minutes, but just as you begin to assume nothing more will come from Forgiven you're met with Joyce's creative vocals, and a solo that works in stark contrast to the slow, wading rhythm.

No Sorrow begins immediately, embarking on what sounds like a story of overcoming trouble, (something not unusual for this brand of country-tinged rock) with a rougher-than-average Pat Benatar-style riff to go along with it. The leads here come out with a thick tone, and with less distortion. The change in style is welcome. The hard rock style is an interesting addition to the EP and Joyce's vocals shine, a vocal prowess that would have been nice to see emphasized more on upbeat tracks Mercy On Me or World Full of Pain as well.

Never Enough maintains Joyce Island's classic sound, but it grows upon the style they put forth on Forgiven, and for that I’m pleased they included it on the album. Hints of great electric guitar do shine throughout the tune, although they’ve shone through every one so far. I cannot stress how good the instrumentals are on Never Enough.

Better Days is reminiscent of nineties pleasant rock, such as the Wallflowers, Counting Crows, or Dave Matthews Band. The rhythm is pulsing and Joyce’s voice has gained a sultry quality. She produces soft harmonies in the background of a tighter, greater voice. It creates a sing-song vibe that is good to end the EP on. The solo is relaxed and bluesy, intertwining with the vocal melody. It’s a care-free relationship. All of it ends with a satisfying band-crash and we’re left with the soft whirring of feedback.

All in all, the album is more than great. The rhythm section and lead guitar are some of the best and most exciting I’ve heard in the starting-to-break Vancouver scene. Joyce finds her voice as the album progresses and by the final, comfortable melodies, the band has produced an EP I am impressed with.