Nostalgia continues to overpower us. Overgrown, Joyce Wrice’s debut album, clearly establishes that. Refreshingly, Overgrown consistently succeeds in exploring a theme of maturity.
Interestingly, YouTube introduced me to Joyce Wrice by chance. I wanted to find new indie R&B acts, and she was the first one I stumbled upon. “Ain’t No Need” quickly became a morning staple before work.
So now we arrive at Overgrown, an album determined to transport R&B back to its basics. I’m not mad at it. I’ll be the first to admit R&B needs to be rescued from creative bankruptcy. Joyce deserves props for taking a traditional approach amidst the Trap&B movement.
“Chandler” opens up with sweeping violins and jazzy background vocal stylings. It’s an opener I’d expect from 2000s staples like Mya, Tamia, and so much more. “Chandler” has a clear goal: transportation. It drops us into a realm meant to be filled with overture. R&B’s sparse production as of late makes it an immediate standout.
“Falling in Love” continues this idea, propelling us with a slick, video game aesthetic. Featured singer Lucky Daye’s vocals blend with Joyce’s beautifully. The lyrics, “If I’m willin’ to give you all of me. I don’t wanna stay somewhere that I’m not wanted” resonate. They further establish the album’s central theme.
The single “On One” arrives just in time for those mandatory summer evening cruises with friends (or solo). It also sets up an interesting narrative. Lyrics, “We be going back and forth. Acting like you so unsure. But everytime you’re here, it’s like I’m all yours” showcase the fragility and uncertainty that come with love.
Freddie Gibbs offers a classic “2000s featured rapper” vibe. I can’t hate on it, though. It doesn’t really take away from the song, or maybe I’m just desensitized to it by now.
“Losing” is perhaps my favorite track on the album based on its lyrics alone. “I’m loving the idea of you in my head. But that’s not the real you, you could do so much better. Now that I know the real you, I could do so much better.”
Yes ma’am! *Snaps fingers*
“You” acts as a sort of jazzy refrain to “Losing.” I’m a sucker for slowed-down, jazzy production, and this hits all the right spots. It’s criminally short, serving as a sort of interlude, but it offers just enough to still satisfy.
“Addicted” feels like typical Soundcloud fare honestly. However, the track serves to showcase Joyce’s sonic diversity. The lyrics continue the theme of “I know I should do better, but…” which I giggled at. Still, it was mostly enjoyable.
“I know by now I should be better. If I’m speaking truthfully. And honestly, I’m feelin’ kinda lonely. And I had you on my mind like a million times now.”
“Must Be Nice” sounds like it was pulled straight out of the year 2005 and remixed for today. I could have sworn I heard LeToya Luckett make something similar. That’s not a dig by any means! Masego’s vocals massage the track with lyrics like, “If we take time off, we’ll never rebuild, yeah. We cannot construct with different people, no.”
“Think About You” mostly fills up space and isn’t too memorable to me. Even the lyrics, “Take me outta my head. ‘Cause I know love. And it ain’t there. You make me feel it where my heart is,” don’t offer anything substantial. However, it’s a microscopic misstep, and I’d rather stumble in a similar fashion if I had to. The production still slaps, if nothing else.
Then we get to “So So Sick,” arguably the best track on the album. Featuring a slick, jazzy “They Don’t Know” by Jon B sample, this is Joyce Wrice at her best. Memorable lyrics include, “But when I move on and find somebody new. Give ’em all the love that you could’ve had. Had to cut you off, now you got it bad. Now you so sick, I’m with somebody new.” It serves us an updated “I Bet” by Ciara, and I love it!
“That’s On You” slows everything down as we reach the credits. Featuring a mix of Japanese and English lyrics, it’s a great song (among many) to chill and vibe out to. And as someone who’s over the “vibe music” that’s not to be taken lightly.
Finally, we reach “Overgrown,” the title track. A soft, piano-driven ballad, it serves as an understated culmination of the overarching themes of the album: growth & maturity. I was impressed with lyrics, “You will be scared, unprepared sometimes. And don’t you choose to lose your faith. You are loved, you are enough.”
Overgrown triumphs as a debut album, a departure from most R&B projects that focus on crushes and heartbreak. Joyce Wrice wants to establish boundaries and expectations from the start. It’s like we’re getting a do-over of the 2000s with all the mistakes we made back then in the back of our mind. I definitely recommend a listen.
Listen to the full project below: