This Buzz for You: Joy Kills Sorrow, Wide Awake (EP)

The first time I saw Joy Kills Sorrow, in October of last year, my friend Jenne and I were actually sat amongst them in a bar in Philadelphia. While my initial comment (to Jenne) was that I loved Emma Beaton's hair because there was no way mine could achieve such height, I quickly came to appreciate both Beaton's, whose voice you simply do not forget, and the band's sound.

Comprised of classically trained musicians Beaton (lead vocalist), Matthew Arcara (guitar), Wes Corbett (banjo, vocals), Jacob Jolliff (mandolin), and recent addition Zoe Guigueno (bass, vocals), the Boston-based string band presents a fuller, lush sound on its recently released EP Wide Awake.

The title comes from the first verse of the EP's opening track, "Was It You": "Was it you there slipping out the backdoor / When you thought I wasn't home / Could you leave me in good conscience / So you wander all alone / Wide awake and searching in the shadows / All the places where we been / But the walls aren't giving any answers / And the silence never ends." A song about being haunted by the memory of a person once dear, "Was It You" showcases Joy Kills Sorrow's biggest strengths: songwriting craftsmanship coupled with big sound from both excellent, incredibly skilled playing and the strength of Beaton's vocals. It's also emblematic of what listening to Joy Kills Sorrow does: their sound sticks with you. "Get Along" infuses a jazz sound to their bluegrass stylings, while "Gold in the Deep" perhaps most reflects their traditional string sound.

I've talked many times in this column about my love of percussion, but, I must say, I don't miss it on Wide Awake in the least. That's in large part to the band's newest member, bassist Zoe Guigueno. I don't have the words to describe how much I adore both her playing as well as her vocal harmonies (I mean, let's be honest, she and Beaton totally kill it at 2:55 in "Was It You" and that never fails to make me smile, every single time, and my play count is quite high having only had the EP since June 4th).

And if you don't think an acoustic string band is capable of a mighty sound, listen to Joy Kills Sorrow's cover of The Postal Service's electro-pop "Such Great Heights", which is included on Wide Awake and is also a (quite excellent) feature of their live shows...



Joy Kills Sorrow is currently touring in support of Wide Awake, and I'm really hoping, quite selfishly, they make it back to Philadelphia in addition to the dates posted. Tour dates can be found here, via their website.

Wide Awake is available now.

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