Usual tags such as ‘singer-songwriter’, ‘folk-soul’, ‘troubadour’ are perceived with a considerable amount of cynicism these days, especially since the music scene has been saturated with middle of the road artists, marketed as such by traditional record label formulae. Someone with a discerning ear and trust in their own taste should be able to spot who’s the real deal and who’s not.
Leaving tags aside, Foy Vance operates in his own parallel universe. His music is an evolving journey, a constant search for artistic expression captured in the moment, operating well away from industry standards. Surely you’ll hear echoes of Otis Redding, Richie Havens, Tom Waits and Van Morrison in Foy’s music, legends he’s already being compared to and definite influences. An ever so modest Foy will laugh at these comparisons, but then again that’s what makes him so special.
His debut album ‘Hope’ is now completed and a close listen demonstrates that Foy is a truly unique talent belonging to a calibre of artists that stand the test of time. The recording process has been very organic and spontaneous capturing the live element and the rawness of Foy’s performance. In his own words: ‘I recorded the album on the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland in a cottage I hired up there. I’ve used studios in the past and I’ve always found them a bit difficult when it comes to really getting into the vibe so I figured – I’ll just buy the recording gear I need, hire a cottage, stick a piano in it and record. The whole idea was not to have a design and let the album produce itself. Every night we’d get the fire burning, open a bottle of wine put some mics up and record. A lot of what came out of that is what the album is’.
Musically it flows like a live session and it brings out Foy’s soul, blues, gospel and jazz influences soaked up while growing up in Oklahoma but also from spending time in Alabama and New Orleans with his preacher father who played an intrinsic part in the way Foy observes the world. Lyrically, Foy has an amazing talent for telling great stories in a song, as is so poignantly demonstrated in ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’ and ‘Gabriel and the Vagabond’. The album has many highlights including the southern-fried funk of album opener ‘Be with Me’, the Led Zeppelin meets Donna Summer groove of ‘Hope, Peace & Love’ and the rhythm & blues of ‘Shed a little light’. Heartfelt songs such as ‘Treading Water’, ‘I Was Made’ and ‘First of July’ complete an eclectic package of beautifully crafted songs, which as Foy puts it, ‘I see this album as small ornaments and trinkets that form the mantelpiece’.
‘Hope’ is a theme that defines Foy’s life and which is present throughout the album, whether in a positive or a negative way. ‘I named the album Hope because that’s something that’s been hereditary for me. It came from my dad who was eternally hopeful and every song on the album has an element or is some sort of study of hope’.
The album was written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Foy himself. Tchad Blake who is best known for his work with Pearl Jam, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello has also contributed to the mixing of some tracks.
After wowing the crowd with his jaw dropping performance with Ulster’s 70-piece Symphony Orchestra at BBC’s Orchestral Manouevres sell-out concert in Belfast, Foy is currently on a UK tour with festival dates planned throughout the summer.