‘We Can Never Go Back’ – Joy Williams

Credit: Steven Taylor
Credit: Steven Taylor

Over the weekend Joy Williams dropped two new or partially new songs; both acoustic in nature. ‘Before I Sleep’ the opening track off her recently released album, ‘Venus’, and a brand new song that didn’t make the album, ‘We Can Never Go Back’.

Unlike her album, both these songs are devoid of any EDM influence that pulsed through ‘Venus’; the synths, the heavy beats, the pop slickness have all been swept away in one quick motion. Leaving only Joy’s evocative vocals and an acoustic guitar in place. An instrument that will forever be associated with Williams’ and her now deceased band The Civil Wars, but also one that barely featured on her album.

‘We Can Never Go Back’ evokes that same mood The Civil Wars were so apt at creating; one of longing, of regret, and where what is left unsaid actually says more than what is spoken.

In the song she is desperately trying to convince an unnamed friend or lover that the only way they can continue being together is if they both stop dwelling on their individual hurt and move on, not looking back at what has been; both good and bad.

“Remember when you loved me/ Remember when I left/ Remember that time it hurt like nothing else/ Wanna try that again/ Remember when fought together/ It was us against the world/ Remember how close we came/ Wanna try that again.”

By the end of the song, there is a definite shift in tempo and mood as the chorus becomes less desperate, less heartbreaking and more peaceful; as if the two characters in the song have accepted what has gone before them, and have decided that will go on together.

“On and on and on and on/ We go on and on and on and on.”

The delicate picking and rhythm of the guitar entwined with Joy’s evocative and breathy vocals, creates a sense of the tide softly coming in and then moving back out to sea; mirroring the emotional push/pull of the story and the rise and fall of Williams’ voice.

Remember what forgiveness feels like/ Oooh you wanna try that again/ You wanna try that again.”

‘We Can Never Go Back’ has always and will always be a song that tugs on my heart, even all those months ago when I heard it for the first time. It’s a beautifully powerful song; not because of what it says but because of what it doesn’t say. It’s open yet closed; empty yet full; it leaves the listener pondering what the story is behind the song but also allows the listener to find themselves in the story and in the music.

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