Foy Vance – Joy Of Nothing (Glassnote)

Irish indie-folk troubadour returns with a few friends in tow

Released Aug 26th, 2013 via Glassnote / By Larry Day
Foy Vance – Joy Of Nothing (Glassnote) Harking from Bangor, County Down, Foy Vance is set to unveil his first record on new label Glassnote, entitled Joy Of Nothing, at the end of this month. Gaining popularity for his heart-rending paeans of love, life and loss, he's recently bulked up his credentials, touring with Snow Patrol, Bonnie Raitt and Ed Sheeran (the latter two actually lend vocals to the upcoming record). It's a delicate brand of folk that Vance hawks, utilising the raw soul of his beloved six-stringer and his velvet voice to convey the frailest moments of humanity. He possesses a rare talent that can rattle your emotional core.

Learning his craft in the American Dustbowl after relocating there as a child with his father, Vance injects the hugely Stateside traditions of country music into his version of folk; it's packed with considerably more oomph and pop charm, and oozes feelings like no British man ever could. Vance manages to tread the fine line between endearing and cloying, and though he sings with a country twang about whatever his heart feels, there's nary an aroma of extra ripe Limburger. It's honest and exposed-bone raw, rife with genuine, relatable lyrics.

'It Was Good' yanks a page from Mumford & Sons' book. The pastoral drawl and sun-speckled guitars leap unbounded, and while there's no mandolin or banjo, you still get the Sunday-morning contentedness and massive pop 'oohs'. Vance manages to capture Mumford's signature bumpkin-in-the-sticks style with a fraction of the razzle-dazzle; he don't need no chintzy gimmicks. Veering away from rich oafs, 'Guiding Light' is a neo-folk anthem. It's everything modern folk aims to be: stuffed with gut-twisting emotion, earthy guitars, epic choruses and Ed Sheeran. 'Guiding Light' is a bucolic hymn, simultaneously crammed with solemnity and motivational gumption about the strength of the psyche. The preceding number, 'At Least My Heart Was Open' uses a similar formula, but being followed by 'Guiding Light' makes it get slightly lost in the muddle.

'Paper Prince' is a slightly skewed turn on Vance's wares, the bass plods along as if it were a dopey tortoise, and the chord sequences, far from being beautifully composed, climb awkwardly, providing a welcome respite from perfection. It's still a titan of folk glory. 'Closed Hand, Full Of Friends' is one of the few cuts that features piano at the helm. It's got a Snow Patrol pang, which is understandable given their relationship with Vance and by no means bad. Orchestral flourishes boom behind the vocals as Vance sings of the importance of friendship during troubled times: “I will find my means to an end/ with... a closed hand full of friends.”

His music is known to be TV/film friendly – he's been featured on Grey's Anatomy, House, Warm Bodies, Vampire Diaries, Academy Award-winning short The Shore and various documentaries – and it's highly likely you've already heard his noises without realising it. There's an intrinsic Clover advert timbre to Foy Vance, and it's not unfeasible to imagine the Northern Irish troubadour soundtracking children frolicking in the glens, elderly fishermen chortling on a pontoon or a steamed-up kitchen full of breakfast treats. It's often heart-warming, uplifting and powerful, and even in the darkest moments, it's easy to leave Joy Of Nothing with a zen mentality. It's a cleansing album; it's a detox for the soul.