Joy – Sailing Days

Sailing Days

What started as two long-time friends, Daniel Madri and Matt Savage, back in 2002 has now become a trio with the addition of Matt Dodge on drums. The latest effort from Boston’s Joy is an EP that features five full tracks with two untitled instrumental tracks amidst the vocally led tunes. In Sailing Days, the songs have been given extra instrumental attention with the addition of mandolin, cello, banjo and keyboards to the groups acoustic guitar and drums. Their normally more stripped-down folksy sound is given some extra depth and fullness.

The album opens with “Tiger’s Paws”, originally released on their sophomore release Devil’s Blues. The reworked version becomes even more rich and beautiful with more refined vocals and instrumental detailing. The cello here is a perfect addition although it just hovers in the background and while listening to it; it becomes difficult to imagine the song sounding any differently. “Sailing Days” follows with the lead vocals soaring higher in range, softly floating above the acoustic music. The guitar conjures up images of Red House Painters with beautiful finger picking layered with mandolin. “Untitled 1” enters with guitar finger picking and some banjo in the background for a slightly quirky sound that would be a really interesting flavor for a full track.

In “Blue Light”, the soft vocal harmonies hover above the guitar, mandolin and cello for a sound that could easily place you somewhere in a secluded place with a loved-one. The lead singer sounds a bit like David Gray and it blends nicely with the music. Further displaying their talent for well-crafted instrumentation, the last three minutes of the track is absent of all vocals and would likely sweep anyone anyway. “Hammers and Hail” follow with the lead singer sounding a little more like John Meyer with a cello-infused acoustic track that picks up the tempo just slightly. The guitars here once again sound reminiscent of Red House Painters with added mandolin. While it is difficult to choose, I would have to say this is my favorite track. “Untitled 2” pulls the tempo and the tone down a few notches with a sparse acoustic guitar intro to the final track, a song from their self-titled debut. “Sex” feels the sparsest of the group and is a nice way to close the album and round out their sound. This song proves that you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to create a stand out piece.

The group has come a long way from the simple duet of vocals and guitar in their self-titled debut in 2002. They display here their knowledge of crafting a work of art with layers of flawless vocals, fine instrumental detailing and intelligent lyrics. The dense sound that weaves through each song is rich, mature and holds great promise for their future work. With the band busy in the recording studio working on their 2007 full length, this album is a teaser that delivers a hint of what is yet to come from this talented group.