With a psychedelic minimalism and 60s-inspired sound, L.A. based musician Joy Downer’s newest single, ”Chain Reaction” featuring Beck, harbors a deceptively despondent tone contradicted by an upbeat stride (not unlike the paradoxical nature of Joy Downer’s name). The first new piece of music released by Downer since her 2020 self-produced debut album, Paper Moon, “Chain Reaction” contemplates the human tendency of putting those we love first, instead of communicating what we need.
As the song explores this soft spot in our heart, the moments unfold like a sparkling beverage that’s been opened and long forgotten, bound to lose its fizz. Within the confines of love, it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to try and solve your partner’s problems even if you have troubles of your own. And, when both individuals are a little bit broken, it’s hard to fix anything. Though, that doesn’t stop us from trying. You want to be there for the one you love, but you’re also quietly drowning as you send out a non-verbal S.O.S.
Likening it to being on an airplane as oxygen masks are deployed, Downer notes the sentiments captured in her song are akin to wanting to help others with their masks.
“I know I’m supposed to put mine on, but I can’t shake wanting to help others first,” Downer says. “This song is an ode to those of us that deeply struggle with that concept.”
Featuring additional drums and percussion from Lauren Brown (formerly of KOLARS) and extra guitar work from Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), the single’s instrumentation is soft and expansive, keeping a steady pace while delicate vocals from Downer and Beck intertwine and then separate to complete two halves of the same coin. The balance of both a female and male perspective opens up the song’s theme to encompass anyone who’s ever felt a deep desire to support loved ones despite the gnawing of their own needs.
Balancing motherhood and a sparkling career, Downer works alongside her husband, Jeffrey Downer, to create an indie-rock discography that ranges from psychedelic to pop, with beautifully constructed tunes that have a sharp lyrical wit and subtly shifting instrumentation.
Joy Downer will perform her new single on the Late Late Show with James Corden on April 26 alongside Liv Slingerland on bass, Jordan West on drums, Alex Bloom on keys and Jeffrey Downer on guitar. This will be the second time Downer appears on Corden’s talk show following last year’s performance of “Over and Out,” also featuring Beck.
In addition to streaming online, “Chain Reaction” will also be available soon as an exclusive vinyl release through McCready’s Hockey Talkter Records, via Third Man Pressing.
Words: Patti Sanchez