Listening to Joy Autumn’s debut EP Midnight is a mystical, interior experience. She brings you into the sunrise of her emotional life, her early morning disappointments, her dashed dreams and her hopes. Autumn’s voice is vulnerable and steel-strong at the same time, with a curl that pierces you like a minor note. Her lyrics paint pointillist, tear-stained pictures — lights and shadows across her face.
She opens Midnight with” Searching for You”, sung from the depths of the Hollywood tomb she spiraled into when, broke and eating canned food in a 400 square foot apartment, she sought sustenance in the predatory afterhours Hollywood party scene of drugs, alcohol, and sex. “I was searching for myself in all the wrong places” she says, “going to parties until 4 in the morning to meet industry men who could help my career – and never did”. Running to put money in the meter with heels in the morning light/Those moments I wonder how I got to this place, she sings in “Searching for You”, painting an intense, noir picture that makes the personal universal.
Where “Searching for You” tells of a desperate hunt for home, success, and love, the next song,“Go” dives into the skeleton of her fears, of what happens when she finds that emotional nourishment and it starves her. I won’t fall for you tonight/Cuz I know this isn’t right/And you will never be mine, she sings with a nostalgic gentleness that sheathes her determination. She says that the hardest thing you can possibly do is walk away from someone that you viscerally love and feel is a part of you…to tell them to go and continue the search.
But the loss that inhabits “Go” is still with us in “Ghost”, laced with an delicate pain that peeks out through her smoky, feminine voice as she asks “What’s wrong baby?/On a bed of nails you make me wait. She is resolute not to live her life with a ghost, with the man who makes her wait on that bed of nails. But his voice still haunts her, the sound of it Perfectly in time to the choir I hear/Of sirens wailing in the night. The words so intense and her voice so vulnerable, so feminine, so firm, it makes you stop to compose yourself.
But not every home is a bed of nails, not every lover is a ghost, she tells us in “Here and There”, as she sings Anyplace with you is home/Standing on a mountain top/Where we find a cozy picnic spot. But this is still real life, and she reminds us that I’m terrified of what this means…But still we all must try. She takes the leap in “Brave”, the final song on the EP: We won’t be younger than today.. .We might fall flat/But what if it lasts… Are we ever gonna be brave?.
Autumn answers her own question in this EP; Midnight is a gentle, shimmering act of bravery. Midnight may only be six songs, but it compresses a lifetime of emotion into one of the year’s most brilliant works of musical art.