Casi Joy, ex Radio Disney teen performer and The Voice alumni, releases her terrific new album, ‘Miles and Maybes’ today (Friday March 31st). It’s full of sharp lyrics and infectious melodies. For anyone into strong female Country music, from the 90s right through to Carrie Underwood and on up to modern day Carly Pearce style vibes, ‘Miles and Maybes’ is a must-listen.
Casi began her music career touring the midwest in the country opry circuit at the age of 5. After years of performing country classics, she was spotted and signed by Radio Disney at the age of 14. Shortly after, she took her music to Nashville, where she recorded at legendary RCA Studios. A stint on The Voice in 2017, where Casi was a proud member of Team Blake, taught her a lot about herself and about the industry and you can read Casi talk about that, her career and the ‘Miles and Maybes’ album in our interview with her right here.
There’s a lot of life gone into the making of ‘Miles and Maybes’. As she mentioned in our interview, the album has been carefully sequenced so that Joy takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and feelings. The production values are high and the lyrics sharp and sassy and yet also insightful and relatable where they need to be. A major theme on the album is strength & resilience in the face of adversity. Songs like ‘Under the Hood’, ‘The Money’, Me Myself and My’ and ‘Everything’s Fine’ see Joy smiling and laughing through the tears and finding the strength to carry on.
‘Under the Hood’ opens the album in fine style with some strong Pop-leaning Carrie Underwood style Country music. It builds to a melodic chorus and alludes to be a song about a car: whilst that is true on the surface, there are a lot of metaphorical comparisons to people, and Joy herself, going on in the background. ‘She runs like she should, under the hood,’ Joy sings with a big arena sound and plenty of heart and soul. Similarly, ‘Everything’s Fine’, which she uses to close down ‘Miles and Maybes’ is all uptempo vibes, handclaps and funky guitars as we find Casi Joy smiling through the tears as life throws at her all it can. She’s ‘sweeping the floor of a house on fire,’ on this track on another fun and relatable song about resilience with slick production values and arena sensibilities.
‘Me Myself and My’ is perhaps the pivotal song on ‘Miles and Maybes’. Joy told me recently in our interview that this is the song she was most nervous for people to hear. It’s a huge ballad and a raw, honest look at anxiety and self doubt. ‘All this make believe is killing me,’ she sings as the song builds to a huge diva-like chorus. Joy’s vocals seem to fill the room here and she can’t help but echo sentiments that most people have felt at some point in their lives. ‘Sometimes I want to scream, but no-one is listening,’ she pleads on this relatable, mature and intelligent song.
Not surprisingly, given her age, Casi Joy also touches on the theme of relationships on ‘Miles and Maybes’. There’s love songs on ‘Partners in Time’ and ‘Life of My Party’, there’s break up and post relationship songs in the shape of ‘Namaste’, ‘Maybelline’, ‘Shoulda’ and ‘Business of Breaking Up’ and there’s a lovely tribute to fathers on ‘Hey Dad’. Across all of these songs Joy writes with a cleverness, using interesting rhymes and intelligent turns-of-phrase to guide you through the songs in a way that only great Country music lyrics can do.
‘Partners in Time’, with its chugging guitars and 90s vibes puts me in mind of artists like Sara Evans and Martina McBride and is a real catchy, infectious shot of joy (pun intended) whilst ‘Life of My Party’ is a tasteful, restrained ballad with awesome production that feels like something Maddie and Tae would record and take to the top of the charts. ‘Hey Dad’, meanwhile, hits you right where it is intended to with its lyrics about notes in lunchboxes, being taught to ride and the simpler times that we all remember from our childhood. At the centre of these memories are often dads and Joy pays tribute to hers in a touching way that is heartfelt and sentimental rather than being mawkish or over the top as she sings about ‘all the days we won’t get back.’
A number of the break up and post-relationship songs contain some real biting lines and moments of humour that only good Country writers manage to produce. ‘Namaste’ is a summer-themed song about that awkward moment when you end up in the same bar as your ex and you decide that ‘namaste right here and drink this beer.’ It’s got a great live feel to it with its funky guitars and chorus and I’d advise you to check out the video below too, which fits the spirit of the song perfectly. On ‘Shoulda’, which builds to a really funky chorus that you are going to want to holler along to in the shower, Joy sings about a guy who is ‘so full of shhhhhhhhoulda’ that you are going to dislike him as much as she does without even knowing him whilst on ‘Maybelline’, perhaps one of the strongest songs on ‘Miles and Maybes’, we find Casi Joy bemoaning bad dates. ‘What a waste of a little black dress, big, sexy hair and brand new itty-bitty underwear,’ she complains on a 90s sounding, fiddle driven song that could well be a conversation between girlfriends sung by a young Trisha Yearwood jamming with The Chicks.
Special shout out must go to ‘Low Brow Luxe’ too, which sees Joy channeling the power of Carrie Underwood and the fire of Miranda Lambert on a song about living within your means. ‘Why spend more when you can be pretty?’ she asks, describing herself later in the song as ‘high class trash livin’ low brow luxe’. It’s a banjo driven banger guaranteed to get you on your feet and dancing and a song that stands out on an album of incredibly well-produced songs that have a lot to say for themselves.
‘Miles and Maybes’ is a slickly produced album whose touchstones cover the best of female fronted Country music of the past 30 years. You can hear the 90s legends like Trisha Yearwood and Sara Evans in there but you can also hear Carrie, Miranda and even some Carly Pearce on a track like ‘Business of Breaking Up’ too. There’s an intelligence to the lyrics that elevate even the most simple songs. Artists like Dolly Parton and Miranda Lambert have been doing this for years, dressing up simple themes like heartbreak and fun, and presenting them in intelligent ways with fresh angles and relatable lyrics and Casi Joy does exactly the same. Every song on ‘Miles and Maybes’ has something to say and a reason for it to be where it is on an album that has been carefully sequenced to take the listener on a journey of differing emotions. It’s fun in lots of places, sad in others. It speaks to the experiences of us all and that relatability gives it some real heft in terms of what it has to say and how it does it. The songs are simple yet there’s a depth to them that provides a gravitas that elevates this album above the myriad of releases that come out of Nashville each month and it makes ‘Miles and Maybes’ a real must-listen for anyone who likes honest Country music with humour, heart and soul.
Track list: 1. Under the Hood 2. The Money 3. Partners in Time 4. Hey Dad 5. Low Brow Luxe 6. Me Myself and My 7. Poor Angel 8. Namaste 9. Life of My Party 10. Maybelline 11. Shoulda 12. Business of Breaking Up 13. Senses Fail 14. Everything’s Fine Record Label: Onerpm Release Date: 31st March Buy ‘Miles and Maybes’ now