Remember how in my recent Zac Brown Band review how I said I appreciated hearing passion in their music? You can truly tell when an artist cares about their music and this is certainly evident when listening to Joy Collins sing. You can hear it in her voice that she enjoys what she does and this makes her music even better. Collins is an independent country music artist trying to cut her teeth in the dog eat dog world of Nashville. Here’s a little more about Collins from her website. Collins spent years writing music in Nashville, but then as she says, “life happened.” But now she’s back doing what she loves and that led her to produce the album It Ain’t Just Music. Today I’m going to review two singles from that album, the album titled track, “It Ain’t Just Music” and “(I Want You) Unhappy.”
First, we’ll take a look “Unhappy.” This song is about a woman retelling the experience of an emotional breakup with her cheating husband and describing her current feelings about “crossing him off the list.” Collins is relating to her own divorce in this song and you can hear the emotional connection she has with it. Lyrically the song is well-written and does a good job telling a story and setting the scene in the listeners head. This is especially on point in the second verse recalling all of the long distance phone calls, the lying and how she says, “it’s only fair we share in this pain.” The best line of the song is “it’s not that I don’t want you happy, I just hope you’re unhappy with anyone with me,” a great play on words and describes the mood perfectly. You can definitely tell Collins’ greatest strength is her songwriting.
My only critiques about “Unhappy” are I would’ve liked to have seen more fire and edge from Collins to really drive the mood of the song home. Other than that I enjoyed it. This is a good breakup song and should be relatable to most listeners.
“It Ain’t Just Music” is the exact opposite of “Unhappy.” This is a song about following your dreams and pursuing your passions. Collins sings about her love of making music and the sense of being born to do this. Lyrically this is flawless from beginning until end. The writers of this song, Jason D. Jones and Jason Fitz, deserve credit for writing such great lyrics. The chorus line really packs a punch, especially at the beginning as it begins with this:
“It’s my drink and it’s my drug/I can’t ever get enough. It’s more than words and more than rhymes/ It’s my life wrote down in time.”
If you read her short biography on her website, Collins had an addiction problem and her covering this song about her true passion is innovative. Just listen to the whole song and you will understand the great songwriting on display. One thing you will notice about Collins’ voice is her low registry. It’s much lower than what you hear from most female singers, which helps her standout a bit. I would say her voice is similar to Jennifer Nettles, who also has a good low registry. You will never have to worry about her screaming through a song. She knows her comfort zone.
Both tracks are great country songs that I would recommend to anyone who appreciates traditional sounding country music.
“Unhappy” Grade: 7.5/10
“It Ain’t Just Music” Grade: 8/10
To get a free download of these two songs, click here.
(Correction: Originally I had that Collins wrote “It Ain’t Just Music.” A commenter pointed out that this is incorrect and I have made the necessary changes. Apologies to the writers of the song who I originally did not credit.)