If you read my post on Anadara over here, you know I’m picky about female vocalists.  I’ve got nothing against women – I just am getting tired of the over-populated female singer-songwriter market, especially within Christian music, and I think it’s time we start to be more willing to critique music that is good (or just OK) but not great.

In this world of female vocalists that all sound the same, Joy Ike is doing things differently enough to be really refreshing.

She’s not way out there and weird in her musical style.  In fact, it’s a pretty “normal” sounding style.  And while her sound can definitely be polished a little more in some areas, listening to her album Good Morning has been an overall really good experience for me.

I’m not entirely sure why, but I really like Joy Ike, and I think you will too.

Joy has only been pursuing music seriously for the past three years or so, yet she’s managed to release two albums, the latest of which I think is really good.  Some songs are somewhat boring, like all albums, but as a whole, Good Morning is really refreshing.

I’m trying to see how many different ways I can say the same thing over and over again in this blog post.  Did I mention her album is a refreshing new sound?

Joy Ike was raised in Pittsburgh, and she says her style is “very confused about itself.”  She calls it “a mix of of neo-soul, jazz, pop, and indie.”  I wouldn’t be so quick to say it’s a confused style but rather that it’s a really good blend of different styles.  Joy has a great voice that would be good enough for her to put out a very mediocre album that would sell great in Christian bookstores, but what I like about her is that she’s not content in doing that.  The music has a measure of that “female singer-songwriter” feel to it, but only enough to bring some familiarity.  And rather than rest there in comfortable norms, she pushes the boundaries and mixes styles that I think are a lot more interesting and fun.

I really like it.  Accessible but different enough to be really interesting.

If you go and buy the album, I definitely recommend getting the actual physical CD.  For an unsigned artist, her album design is one of the cleanest and most professional I’ve seen.  While I like the weird, artsy stuff that Danielson, Page France, Sufjan Stevens, Anathallo and similar bands are doing with their designs, Joy did a great job in creating a CD design that feels very professional and artistic all at once.  The cover is perfect.  Simple and nice, artistic without that “I’m so artsy I don’t have to look like art” feel.  Just take a look at it here.

But enough about her graphic design skills.  Lyrically, Joy’s a great writer.  She deals with pretty normal topics like social issues, love, lonelines, and the search for God, but she does a great job of expressing those pretty common themes. In her own words, “I’m hoping to say what most people are thinking but nobody will admit.”

Joy wants to use her music to help people in real ways.  In an article on Wrecked for the Ordinary, she said, “I feel like there is a movement… of churches in general that are starting to look outside the congregation and outside the four walls… That’s the kind of the same audience I am trying to reach with my music. [I am hoping to reach] the people who aren’t necessarily Christians, but [those who] have that same heart to do good things.”

Let me close with this, her last line in her bio on-line: “Aside from her serious attitude about the world and her music, her awkward sense of humor, and the occasional bad note are the less intense, more comical shortcomings of a 24-year-old who claims she’s trying to save the world.”  Gotta love the honesty.

I think you’ll like these two samples from Joy’s album Good Morning:

Alone – Download – Stream
Hey, Where Are the Kids? – Download – Stream

Website: www.joyike.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/joyike

Download MP3s at Amazon.com
Buy CDs on her website

Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week