Two years after her first project, piano-based independent artist Joy Ike released her second full-length album, “Rumors,” with a release event at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
The CD was recorded by Jake Hanner, who doubles as sound engineer of Play On Recording and drummer for accomplished indie-pop group, Donora. Emmy Award Winning Studio, Ya Momz House, based in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty, mixed and mastered the album. Produced by Ike, the project maintains her signature sound of pop, nu-jazz and neo-soul while simultaneously lending itself to a number of new ideas and sounds ranging from pop rock to classical.
Over the last two years, Ike has earned a reputation for being an accomplished performer who is just as entertaining to listen to as she is to watch. In a very recent write-up and radio piece on “All Things Considered,” National Public Radio is quoted as saying, “The depth of subjects she tackles in her poetic lyrics are perfectly complemented by a unique blend of neo-soul, with just the right dash of pop a truly compelling act to watch in person, with the ability to create an intimate setting in locations big and small.”
Having been voted “Best Solo Artist” by Pittsburgh City Paper readers for the last two years, Ike made a bold move and decided to ask her fan base if they would be willing to fund the production of “Rumors” by sponsoring her through Kickstarter, an online forum that helps individuals fund artistic ideas and endeavors. She was able to raise a grand total of $4,755 through both online and offline donations.
Though drawing regular comparisons to artists like Regina Spektor and Norah Jones, Ike’s sophomore album showcases a sound that is best described as different. “This album is unique for many reasons,” said Joy. “While it’s arguably poppier than my last project, it’s also a lot more raw and very earthy. There’s no auto-tune, there are very few effects, and you’ll likely hear a flat note here or there. I’ll credit that to Jake Hanner who encouraged me to keep it as organic as possible and made the tracking process one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in the studio.”
The project pushes the boundaries both lyrically and instrumentally. Ike, who has been known for freely expressing her faith through her music, kicks it up a notch and shares her thoughts on relativism (“Give Me Truth”) and a shattered belief system after the death of her brother (“How She Floats”). At the same time, the album addresses common themes of life and love.
Instrumentally, “Rumors” showcases a versatility that Ike’s audience has come to expect at her live shows, due to valuable contributions from bandmates Chris Massa, Jason Rafalak, Peace Ike and Elliot Anderson. Massa, not only played and recorded drums on the project, but wrote, arranged, and conducted string parts for a number of the songs. It’s a signature sound that people will recognize, if they’ve listened to anything by Ben Hardt & His Symphony, whom Massa also writes for. Rafalak (upright bass, guitar, mandolin), and Anderson (cello), have been playing with Ike for a about a year also contributed significantly. Peace, who has been performing with her sister since the beginning of her career, has probably helped to shape her music more than anyone else.
She credits much of her musical influence to more modern acts including her two favorite female artists, Sara Groves and Brooke Waggoner and independent artists Aqualung, Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens. “I really just love soul music and I think soul music has less to do with how a song sounds and more to do with the emotion behind it. I think that’s why these artists mean so much to me.”
Based out of Pittsburgh, Ike’s schedule includes an average of 130 dates playing anything from house shows to college events to music and art festivals.
Ike’s music is noted for its depth—addressing the human condition, thoughts on love and the search for God in a very tangible way.