Most artists are lucky if they get one chance to release their music, but Joy Williams is now on her third project and she continues to impress. The one-time Christian-pop vocalist and one half of the now-defunct multi-Grammy Award-winning Americana group The Civil Wars, is embarking on a wholly different mission on this solo release. The sweeping anthemic opener “Before I Sleep” is the perfect lead-in track with its rousing rhythm and tale of the long, arduous journey Williams has taken the past few years. “Sweet Love of Mine” could be an outtake from an early Dido record and the empowering pop of “Until the Levee” paints an awesome picture of fighting to overcome obstacles. “Woman (Oh Mama)” is an undeniable, thrumming, tribal number in the vein of Angelique Kidjo, and when paired with the staccato, picturesque lyrics about what makes a woman who she is, the song boils like a volcano ready to erupt. Williams' vocals are as exquisite as ever, and considering the territory she covers or alludes to (The Civil Wars' breakup and her nearly failed marriage, among other things), they make the emotionally jagged terrain somehow look beautiful. Venus feels like Williams' declaration of freedom, and it's an album I'll often return to.