Folk artist Joy Oladokun released her newest full-length album in defense of my own happiness (vol. 1). The record is an impressive statement of who Oladokun is as an artist: She writes songs that are both cheeky and heart-pulling, like "smoke" and "too high." Folk and pop melodies dominate, with elements of roots and blues shining through on songs like "younger days." Faith is a central theme, as is identity and acceptance. Joy Oladokun writes music in her Nashville home that she shares with her girlfriend, and the songs, she says, are her processing life "as she lives it."
in defense of my own happiness (vol. 1) begins with "smoke," and this stunning opening line: "Yesterday I left my joint sitting on the counter, forgot to put it out, yeah, forgot these things have power, yeah it burned a hole right through, like all the years you can't undo." "smoke" signals a fresh beginning. A rebirth.
Every song on the record feels like Oladokun's personal thoughts laid bare. Faith is a recurring theme, without being overwhelming or didactic, as is the understanding of a new identity as an adult, like Tim Gent's verse on "mercy." "Moral of the story, is we ain't kids no more," he raps, as Oladokun sings, "I don't wanna talk to God, I just smoke weed, Mercy."
"sunday" grapples with the experience of coming out to a religious family. Of the song, Oladokun says, "That’s the biggest lie we LGBTQIA people get told, that our love is less than or deficient. It’s not."
"Who Do I Turn To?" is a searing meditation on the realities Joy has faced, or could face. "breathe again" is beautiful piano ballad with equally haunting lyrics. "Follow me down where the waters run deep, I'll let you drown in the worst of me."
"bad blood" and "unwelcoming" are two of my own favorites. "bad blood" is a song of forgiveness and healing. "unwelcoming" is a bit more grooving, coupled with atmospheric strings, and Joy's vocal chops shine through as she sings about an unwelcoming world.