Joy Ike is the sort of person you're not likely to encounter too often these days: piano-pop singer-songwriters from Pittsburgh. She started writing songs just three years ago, after graduating from Pitt; this summer, she released her first full-length, Good Morning, a collection of 13 tracks that exude positive vibes.
Good Morning showcases a young talent with an ear for the understated pop hook; Ike's music would fit on a shelf with Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and Regina Spektor, and she cites Sufjan Stevens as an influence. Her strong contralto complements the relatively simple but satisfying keys, and occasional strings and thick professional production make for a radio-ready sound.
Ike's lyrics are hopeful, often personal, and noticeably (but not aggressively) Christian. She investigates relationships, delves into social problems, and doesn't shy away from Biblical allusion ("Jacob & Esau," "The Least of These"). The spirituality exhibited seems a liberating one, more gospel exuberance than sermon. Her poetry works best when she loosens up structurally and abandons the AA/BB rhyme scheme that both guides and limits some of the songs. On the track "Alone," she relies more on rhythm than strict rhyme, and profits for it.
Clocking in at nearly 60 minutes, Good Morning is perhaps a bit much to expect listeners to digest in one sitting -- I'm still skeptical of the idea that just because a CD can hold more music than an LP, it should. Perhaps splitting the tracks into a CD and an EP would have made it less likely that the later ones would be neglected in the CD player. Regardless, fans of soulful pop are likely to see a lot of promise in Joy Ike, and waking up to these positive tracks could make for a good morning indeed.