Joy Williams, formerly one half of acclaimed folk duo the Civil Wars, has released the “Woman (Oh Mama),” the first single from her upcoming solo album. The album will be her fourth overall—she had a successful career as a contemporary Christian musician before crossing over into secular music—but first since she rose to prominence with the Civil Wars.
Anticipation is high for Williams’s solo album due, in part, to the unusual circumstances around the breakup of the Civil Wars. Although the band did not formally announce their break up until last year, they had actually been on an indefinite hiatus since 2012—a year before the release of their chart-topping second album. If “Woman (Oh Mama)” is any indication, fans should expect something very different from what they have previously heard from her.
The new single is unlike either the Civil Wars’ hi-fi pop-folk or Williams’ earlier, Christian solo music. This is not to say that it is entirely inconsistent with her previous work; the song features the same drama and sweeping grandeur that made the Civil Wars so successful. But the instrumentation is starkly different from the acoustic-centered Americana of that duo. Instead, “Woman (Oh Mama)” evokes the 1980s era pop and world music fusion of Peter Gabriel. Williams’s vocals soar over a blend of electronic beats and layered, percussive backing vocals.
Williams’s new album, titled Venus, will be released this summer. Listen to “Woman (Oh Mama)” below: