Joyce Wrice: Overgrown
For fans of the songstress, this was a long time in the making! Joyce Wrice's debut solo album, Overgrown, really does speak to her maturity as an artist over her years quietly sitting in the background in the industry. Providing vocals to some of the most iconic R&B in the past decade has honed her ear to understand subtleties and the details between notes. She has a quintessential pretty voice. Comparable to the likes of Amerie and Keyshia Cole: simple, not overly explosive soul vocals, but genuinely pretty, without a doubt. It was only a matter of time before Wrice found her moment in the sun.
Overgrown highlights her ability to wrap her voice around notes, weaving in and out of measures with the vocal gymnastics that in less sturdy hands would be a complete mess of notes with no destination. To not put too fine a point on, a voice like margarine, silken and not too rich for the palette. It's the perfect vehicle for her style of neo soul-tinged R&B. While not strictly neo soul in terms of composition, her music has facets of the niche genre that give it a little more texture. Wrice makes great use of '90s conventions in terms of the genre work on the album. Playful bits of New Jack Swing ("On One," which features a surprising cameo by Freddie Gibbs). R&B tinged with a bit of Lilith Fair-inspired alternative that you'd hear from artists like Dionne Farris and Cree Summer ("Losing"). It all matches pace and emotional depth with her voice.
It's clear Joyce Wrice has the type of musical intelligence and vocal technicality that anything she attempts almost flawlessly lands. It's very rare that a debut album gets it almost 100% perfect. Wrice manages this. Nothing on this album is out of place, random or unnecessary. Even "Westside Gunn's Interlude" (as crude as it is) is playfully tongue-in-cheek enough to have a place here. It's a fitting first attempt at a long-form piece of work that quietly slots in as one of the better debuts in the past few years.