Listen to the latest single from the album, which drops this month
A photo of Grace Joyner’s mother getting ready for her high-school graduation (inset) will appear on the cover of her sophomore album, Settle In, which debuts this month. Joyner says she chose the picture because her mom seems ”on the cusp of something.”
Grace Joyner once was afraid to pursue a career in music. But a graduate school rejection, a relationship gone bad, the support of her mother and talented friends, and the success of her debut album all led her to Settle In—her sophomore project that shows off her elegant, confident voice. “I was afraid because I knew if I let it in, and it didn’t work out, I would be hurt and wonder if I wasted my 20s on a pipe dream,” says the North Carolina native.
While at College of Charleston, Joyner became friends with fellow musicians, most notably producer Wolfgang Zimmerman, former Brave Baby frontman Keon Masters, and Hunter Park of She Returns from War, who encouraged each other to keep their aspirations alive. After not getting into graduate school, Joyner dove into music with purpose. She garnered local praise for her 2014 The Young Fools EP, which was followed in 2016 by her first full-length effort, Maybe Sometimes In C, becoming known for her hazy, low-fi, dream pop sound.
In one of the more beautiful tunes on her latest album, “Million Dollar Wound,” Joyner tells the story of her great-grandfather, James Henry Killgore, who received the injury referred to in the song’s title while serving in World War I. “He was injured in the Battle of Belleau Wood and waited for help by the side of the road for three days before finally being treated and sent home,” says Joyner. “His division went on to fight in some really bloody battles, so this injury quite possibly saved his life, and in turn, is potentially the only reason why my family and I are alive.” On that track Grace is joined by her mother, Julie Joyner, who also is an accomplished singer-songwriter (her high-school photograph appears on the album cover). It’s a compelling touch having two generations of a family sing about a third.
Other standout songs include “Fake Girlfriend,” which features a funky baseline and passive-aggressive lyrics such as, “How hard is it to be sweet to your fake girlfriend,” as well as “Haze,” on which Joyner’s vocals soar. The voice you hear on Settle In is that of an artist who has found her groove, yet seems to have no problem with taking a risk and stepping outside that comfort zone.
To support the new album, Joyner has assembled a touring band that includes drummer Nic Jenkins, keyboardist Camille Rhoden, and bassist Brett Nash. An album release party and show is planned for May 29 at The Royal American.