Album Review- William Prince – “Stand in the Joy”

It is times like these when cooler heads and calming wisdom is what the world needs. In fractured and fevered moments, ratcheting down the rhetoric, centering the most important things in life, and working towards being the solution as opposed to the problem is the approach that you hope prevails.

In country music, we’ve often turned to artists such as Don Williams or Tom T. Hall in these moments. Unfortunately, they are no longer around. But William Prince has just released an album that in many ways hearkens back to the calming and thankful moments of these country greats, and it renders itself as welcomed and vital in the ears and minds of those searching for a semblance of peace.

From Manitoba, Canada, and raised on the Peguis First Nation reservation, William Prince has been a revered member of the greater North American folk community for a while, including being recognized by the JUNO Awards along with accolades from Indigenous organizations. The son of a musician and preacher, and a direct descendant of Chief Peguis who was one of the first Christian coverts from Canada’s First Nation settlements, it’s in the blood of William Prince to search for sanctum.

Though more affiliated with folk and Canada, William Prince’s new album Stand in the Joy is a great entry point into his music for country fans in the United States and beyond. Produced by Dave Cobb, and coming after his music was featured on the hit series Yellowstone, it’s hopefully the moment William Prince becomes more familiar to listeners worldwide, because the material deserves it, and is incredibly pertinent.

It’s not just the songwriting of William Prince. It’s the voice with which the messages are delivered that make the William Prince experience so enriching and soothing. His voice feels so natural, easy, and calming, like the first cool breeze of fall. “Easier and Harder” was the early track from the album that conveyed a Don Williams effect like few other contemporary artists can. And when you hear “Broken Heart of Mine” with its steel guitar accompaniment, you’re convinced it’s okay to call the music of William Prince folk and country.

The balance of Stand in the Joy remains more in the folk traditions though, but you’re okay with that when it comes via songs like “Only Thing We Need” and “Peace of Mind.” Anyone can write songs that attempt to convey a message. But you must believe the messenger if those messages are to resonate. With William Prince, you know he’s not just sloganeering affirmations. He’s taking his life-earned wisdom, and setting it to rhyme.

Even then, it’s fair to say that to some audiences, swaths of Stand in the Joy may just be a little too sleepy to stick near the top of their listening rotation. This is medicine you have to want to take, and the listener is tasked with exuding patience to discover the value of the experience. But even then, a song like “Pasadena” shows an elevated level of melody making that makes for a rather wide net of enjoyment.

People put a lot of faith in music to lead them out of a bad frame of mind. But some music goes further than just attempting to distract you from whatever is eating away at your joy. Great music reminds you that so much of peace and fulfillment has to do with not what you have or what you’ve done, but how you choose to regard it. That’s not just the message of Stand in the Joy. It’s how William Prince gets you to believe in it.

8/10

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