The Joy have wasted no time in elevating their richly authentic Zulu sound to international scope. Having caught the attention of the likes of Sam Smith, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson last year, they even featured on the iconic UK music show Later…with Jools Holland in late 2022 – all this from a quintet of guys who hail from rural KwaZulu Natal and bonded through a high school singing competition.
Their new EP, Hammarsdale chronicles their lives growing up in the township and recounts a multitude of experiences found there. Mirroring the stark contrasts they navigate on a daily basis – love and hate, separation and unification, jealousy and trust, regret, hope, and forgiveness – these sentiments are delivered through a compelling combination of traditional Zulu music and modern production and acapella.
There’s an undeniably authenticity which propels this offering, hinged on the earthy, organic African notes which suffuse it. Cascading vocals open the EP with “Mountain”, whose simple, atmospheric parameters are as compelling as they are euphoric, and “Mashaya Kancane”, stripped back and bare, is acapella fortitude at its finest.
The rest of the tracks pivot off rhythm and house-esque beats which lend vigour to the EP at large. “Izolo” flexes a cushioned beat and light percussion, “Heartbreaker” marries pitching synth with a punchy liquid bass, while “Imali” ties the ribbon on the project with effortlessly light, atmospheric variety.
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The Joy evokes just that – a bassline euphoria sparked by a riveting traditionalist penchant.
Feature pic supplied by artist