Lovers Rock Raggae Style
The Love Joys were Sonia Abel and Claudette Brown, cousins from Brixton, England, who relocated to New York in the early '80s. They found a home in the Bronx, where they hooked up with producer Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes to record their 1982 debut, Lovers Rock. Barnes provided a musical home for numerous Jamaican expatriates in New York City, but The Love Joys were one of the few female acts on his roster. “One Draw” and “Let Me Rock You Now” are slightly brighter than the standard Wackies fare, although the tunes retain an aura that's frosty and forlorn. At a time when Jamaican music was becoming hyper-masculine, The Love Joys presented a unique alternative. They didn’t try to compete or denigrate their male competitors, and instead existed in their own universe. They sound like two young voices floating in the ether, so plainspoken and sweet that they sometimes seem like winter angels. The most striking tracks are also the slowest and darkest. “Stranger” is a haunting portrait of hollow love, while “Chances” is a declaration of faith built on a tempo that transports listeners to a parallel dimension.