No, you haven’t misread, it is Foy Vance. With a name strangely similar to that of our homegrown success story, it’s only natural that one would immediately question – who is this guy? Well, the Northern Irish musician and singer-songwriter is a folk-lord, country kicker and storyteller to the very end. Following his 2013 release, Joy Of Nothing, Foy has unveiled his brand new record, The Wild Swan.
Pressing play on a Foy Vance track for the very first time, I was feeling real good, real fast. ‘Noam Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution’ is the type of country tune that you’d find yourself pretending to know how to line dance to. Its smooth, gradual groove is immediately intriguing and offers up a catchy drum line and old school styled gritty riff that’ll have you smashing out your best air guitar in no time. After spending the night at a dance event that shall remain unnamed, the track is the epitome of ‘real music’ for my ears. Easily the best possible introduction to Foy, this gal is definitely going to be a repeat customer.
Moving onto ‘Upbeat Feelgood’ it’s as though the Irish man has brought together the best elements of country and replaced the somewhat corny parts with some mighty fine folk. An uplifting tale, the singer lays down the lessons of a simple stress-free life with “Get out your bare feet tonight, dance by fire till mornin’ light, I cast all my woes aside, out of sight and out of mind”. The type of song you’d hope to hear during a drunken late-night sing-along, it’s nothing short of a rising sound. With the same name as my best friend’s pseudonym, the third song featured on Foy’s album is of course, ‘Coco’. Drawing out a letter to an ever-sweet naïve character, the singer disregards her inability to understand her surroundings and claims that he’d be proud to call her his.
There’s just something about a great acoustic thigh-slapping song isn’t there? ‘Casanova’ is the type of song that you’d find by chance – unexpected yet extremely exciting. Another ballad, the romantic tale features a fine percussion performance and a string section to die for. Calling out the advice that “It ain’t over” to the man in question, Foy has us falling head over heels for a love story with a second chance ending. Sure to be based around a town in the north-west of Wales, ‘Bangor Town’ is an ode to one of the smallest cities in Britain. Full of possibilities, the sorrowful yet, subtly hopeful homage features a victorious vocal performance and a simplistic piano composition that mimics the soft nature of raindrops on a window.
‘Burden’ and ‘She Burns’ are a pleasure to listen to, but may be overlooked when followed by ballads ‘Be Like You Belong’ and ‘Unlike Any Other. Whether it’s a piano led heart-wrencher that drips loss and longing, or an acoustic dream drenched in devastatingly desperate devotion, you’ll be getting emotional alright. Rich, raw and remarkable range, Foy’s voice is instantly comforting in each of his works. Singing of revolutions in ‘Ziggy Looked Me In The Eye’, Foy encourages listeners to “Never let the spirit die”, soon followed by ‘Fire It Up (The Silver Spear)’.
Finishing the record with what must have inspired its title, ‘The Wind Swans On The Lake’ almost sounds like it’s been taken from a countries anthem – only the anthem is one you’d actually like to listen to on the regular. Foy’s accent is more noticeable than ever on the closer that is both contrastingly calming and confronting. Bred from a stern vocal matched with an almost un-noticeable melody made up mostly of drawn out keys, Foy’s last tune is simply, top-notch.
The Wild Swan is available now through Gingerbread Man Records/Elektra.