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Album Review

Aussie native Vance Joy (born James Keogh) is back with his second album, Nation of Two. And though Joy may not yet be a familiar name to many, his global recognition is definitely rising. His first hit, "Riptide," hovered on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for 42 weeks. And as it took off, none other than Taylor Swift asked him to open for her on her 1989 world tour. Talk about a good way to increase your name recognition!

Now, Joy's back to captivate fans again with songs that showcase his indie feel, varied rifts and unique sound. Nation of Two offers an in-depth look at a couple navigating the ups and downs of their relationship. The songs often feel intimate and complex, suggesting that the stories Joy shares here may include more than a few autobiographical elements.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

In “Call If You Need Me,” a man is willing to let go of the woman he loves, caring only about her happiness: “If it don't feel right, babe/You can run and hide, babe … /If I've been holding on too tight.” In the end, she tells him, “Yes, I'm coming home, babe.”

A guy wants to know everything about the one he loves in “Lay It on Me," even the hard stuff, it seems. He asks, “If all my defenses come down, oh baby/Will you lay it all on me now?” “Take Your Time” details a romance that's perhaps hit a rough spot: "I let you figure me out/Tear all my fences down/We've been so tired." She may be on the verge of bolting, but he's working hard to convince her otherwise: "Won't you take your time on me?/'Cause we got nowhere else to be/And we'll go dancing in the kitchen/You fall in my arms/ … And you know my heart, well it's waiting for your call." We hear similar themes in "One of These Days."

In “We’re Going Home,” a couple can go anywhere and do anything, as long as it’s together: “We're going home/If we make it or we don't, we won't be alone/When I see your light shine, I know I'm home.” And in “Alone with Me,” a guy encourages a woman to slow down and see the beauty around her: “You're beautiful, but you just don't see it sometimes/ … Everything moves so fast/It pays to look up/'Cause you don't know what you might see/When you look around.”

“Saturday Sun” is a man’s song to a woman who’s made a lasting impression on him: “Oh, Saturday Sun/I met someone/Don't care what it costs/No ray of sunlight's ever lost.” Similar sentiments about an unforgettable woman are heard in “I’m With You," where a lovestruck man also wonders whether physical intimacy might be premature: "I know I want you/But is it too soon?” And in “Where We Start” and “Crashing Into You,” a woman’s presence has helped to heal her partner: “You came along/You light up my days, my personal sun," we hear on the latter.

A man knows he must let go of a relationship that has ended in “Like Gold”: “Time to let it go/It won't let go of me/… If I wait 'til it feels right/I'll be waiting my whole life.”

“Little Boy” poignantly recalls moments in Joy's childhood—including one in which a bike accident landed him in the ER—when his parents were reassuringly close by: "Little boy, don't be scared/Now your father is waiting in the next room/Little boy, don't be sad/Now your mom's on her way, you'll be out of here soon."

Objectionable Content

In “Call If You Need Me,” a guy says that a woman is "the first thing and the last thing that I'd see" in bed each day. He says of one particular conversation, "You were in the shower, we were talking through the glass.”

“Lay It on Me" mingles references to inebriation ("I’m so gone/Anyone could see that I'm wasted") and physical desire ("Everything starts at your skin"). In “Saturday Sun,” a man pursuing a woman confesses that he's "so tired of sleepin' alone.”

In “Take Your Time,” a man wants to spend the day (presumably in bed) with his lover, asking her, “Baby won't you let your phone keep ringing?/Are you thinking what I'm thinking?/ Won't you take your time on me?” “Alone With Me" describes a physical relationship with a woman as a "holy place." "Crashing into You” and “Where We Start” likewise imply a sexual connection. On the latter, for instance, we hear, “Take me down, down to where we start/Let's go too far now/All tangled up.”

"Like Gold" reminisces, “I have a memory/You're visiting me at night/Climbing in my bed/You were so quiet that you never woke me.” "Bonnie & Clyde" witnesses the violent end of those two infamous criminals: “And they shot them down/One hundred and thirty rounds/They shot them down.”

Summary Advisory

A lot of popular music today is made up of crude, objectifying lyrics and explicit double entendres. Nation of Two, in contrast, feels … softer.

In an interview with Billboard, Vance Joy said that the album is meant to describe “a perfectly self-contained couple; their world beginning and ending at the bed they share, the car they ride in, or any other place where they're together. ... The idea [is] that their love for each other gives them their bearings; a point of reference that makes sense of life.”

It’s a sweet sentiment. Accordingly, Nation of Two chronicles the emotional highs and monotonous lows of a committed, intimate relationship. Joy sings frequently about the power of love and faithfulness. And childhood memories sometimes walk hand in hand with moments of emotional intimacy

Some sensual details do creep into this narrative, however. Marriage is never clearly mentioned even though long-term commitment and, it seems, cohabitation are implied. In that sense, fans of Vance Joy's style will still have to navigate some mild sexual content here while enjoying his more upbeat reflections on making a relationship work for the long haul.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range







Debuted at No. 10.

Record Label

Atlantic Records




February 23, 2018

On Video

Year Published



Kristin Smith

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