William Prince is not waiting. Not holding his breath, not keeping score, not wishing for what he doesn’t have or hoping for better days. From where he stands, those better days are here. The time to let happiness in, to welcome the good things it brings and to enjoy the good times it makes, is now. Not one day. Today.
William Prince’s new album is a declaration of joy, an active and energized mind and body state. This is what joy feels like, for William. It’s all around. Leading with gratitude, Prince offers his perspective on what it feels like, for him, to love and be loved wholeheartedly. “This record shines a light on one of my greatest sources of strength and happiness: her.” This is Stand in the Joy.
While memory is what shapes our concept of time, dwelling in the past prevents us from moving beyond old, bad habits that keep breaking connections. In “When You Miss Someone,” which introduces the new album, Prince describes the physical hallmarks of longing. You might not relate exactly to Prince’s example: “you can stand in front of the Eiffel Tower and wish you were in Winnipeg,” but you know the feeling. The twist, Prince’s realization, is that this is just a feeling, and it need not hold you back. Alongside also comes “Tanqueray,” a song that captures the head rush of new love, the kind that sets larger things - including the story of this album - in motion. "I want to be like Johnny Cash, an artist for the people,” says William. And the people drink Tanqueray.
Time is a major theme throughout, but not simply as nostalgia. If we think about an album as a passage of time, Stand in the Joy is both a summation and a progression. It’s the time spent since 2020, Prince’s last full-length albums. It’s the time spent at home, and then the time spent away from home. Prince marks the great distance he’s traveled, measured in years, geography and emotional growth, with songs like “Only Thing We Need,” and “Young.” The first, written about lockdown, the second, written about Prince’s 16-year-old self; both versions are equally of the past, which is where they’ll stay. “I look back now and I almost wouldn’t change it,” says Prince. Most importantly, these songs speak directly to his biggest ask of time: he would only like more of it.
Three songs come together in a sequence that speaks to the very heart of the matter. The progression goes from “Goldie Hawn,” a reverential ode to women, to “Easier and Harder,” a universal truth about the workings of love, to “Peace of Mind,” a message about not making drama for yourself, and the source of the album’s title with the lyric “I will stand in the joy where I’ve never stood before.” The songs all gather around the sentiments of newness, hope, and corners turned. This is a work of self-actualization; of Prince fully believing in himself. “The things I wished for most in the hard times - peace of mind, love and happiness - are things I now have.”
Dappled, grassy and lush, Stand in the Joy emanates warmth and light. Produced by Dave Cobb, the album was recorded in the Grammy-winner’s studio, Low Country South in Savannah, Georgia, which became the perfect backdrop for the decidedly Spring-like optimism that permeates the collection, Stand in the Joy is a graceful work shaped by Prince and Cobb, lead guitarist and frequent Prince player Mike T. Kerr, and a roomful of talented musicians including Chris Powell (drums), Brian Allen (base), Paul Franklin (pedal steel), Lee Pardini (keyboard), and the exquisite backing vocals of fiancée and album inspiration Alyshia Grace. Stand in the Joy was mixed and recorded by Brandon Bell and mastered by Peter Lyman.
As he continues to build his body of work, Prince’s music stands shoulder to shoulder with the upper echelons of songwriters, artists who are at once his heroes and his peers. The connection William Prince makes with his listeners, the connection those listeners make to his music, has deepened over time to build an unbreakable bond of comfort and companionship through song. Through his first three full-length albums, William Prince traced a personal journey through struggle and sorrow, and his songs have been there for people when they need it most. With his new album, the songwriter now makes a statement about happiness, generously sharing his own in the same way that he has shared everything that has come before. Prince is in a good place, and he worked very hard to get here. This album is about being in this place, together.
It’s always about the journey, yet Stand in the Joy urges us not to miss being grateful for the good things along the way. “Take A Look Around” is not a last song, but the song before the cycle begins anew. It’ll soon be spring, after all. We start again.