Allysha Joy - Acadie : Raw

Quickly emerging as a prominent voice of Melbourne’s lauded soul scene, Allysha Joy brings exactly what her name suggests to a debut LP. Both powerfully forward-thinking and grounded, Acadie: Raw is expressive, experimental and unashamed of its honesty.

‘FNFL’ is bold and lush, an opener driven by urgent rhythms and Joy’s poignant lyrics. Dedicated to the traditional owners of Australia, the track reflects upon the ongoing struggles for the expression of indigenous culture, for the custody of land and of children. Maintaining both the frankness and sauntering groove of the opener, ‘Selfish’ follows with a tight blend of ebbing synths and gritty bass licks that draws comparisons to Hiatus Kaiyote and Sampa The Great.

‘Honesty’ is a change of pace. An understated repose recalling Joy’s hip-hop roots, the track sets up a sharp contrast with the following ‘Know Your Power’. Frantic and at times sonically tense, ‘Know Your Power’ calls for female empowerment and a realisation of self-worth. Across shifting time signatures and strikingly dissonant instrumentation, the message hits hard.  

Acadie: Raw continues along a path of harmonic and lyrical force on ‘Akala’. Here, poetic reflections regarding the effects of climate change on future generations outline the pressing core of the album ["Before the seas do rise/I swear I’ll make a change/You are worthy of peace"]. ‘Doom’ and ‘Eagle’ follow with what are highlights of production for me. The former particularly toys with blending traditional percussive elements and impressive jazz sensibilities, sitting right at home with Acadie: Raw's immersive grooves and intriguing instrumentations.

‘Swallow Me’ unites all Acadie: Raw's themes up until this point. Beyond arpeggiating Rhodes keys, the track finds a winding and tight rhythmic groove. This allows Joy's breathy and affecting vocals to intensify subtly throughout, across sparkling keys and synths that now provide a signature textural density. The result is a crescendo of shattering glass and resolutely thumping drums; both products of an unapologetic and empowering anger, and an equally vivid celebration of womanhood and self across the LP. Closer ‘Enate’ bookends these themes in a harmonically playful yet ruminating final statement of Acadie: Raw's message. "So don't you dare clip her wings/This omen I will hold", Joy strongly affirms.                   

Allysha Joy's remarkable vocal strength is matched by her clever songwriting and poignant lyricism. Both a colourful and challenging expansion on her previous work with Melbourne group 30/70Acadie: Raw is just as important a listen as it is a true Joy.