Album Review: Foy Vance – Joy of Nothing

By on Monday, 26th August 2013 at 12:00 pm

Foy Vance Joy of Nothing coverBlue-eyed, Bangor-born bluesman Foy Vance is one of those artists I have been following for a couple of years in the hopes that I would one day be afforded the opportunity to fully experience him live. His debut album ‘Hope’ was a distant 6 years ago, although he has kept up a presence with several EPs and soundtracking last year’s Academy Award winning short film ‘The Shore’. With the release of his second album ‘Joy of Nothing’, I may finally get the chance I crave. I had the delight of a truly too short support set for Ed Sheeran earlier this year, but I want more. The new album has fired my desire even greater.

‘Joy of Nothing’ starts out with what is easily one of my favourite songs of the year, ‘Closed Hand, Full of Friends’, covered by TGTF previously here. Building quickly to the pounding refrain, “But I’m feeling alright now!”, ‘Closed Hand, Full of Friends’ can pull you out of a foul mood by the sheer force of its exuberance. The addition of piano and deep, resonant strings right at the beginning of the album ensures we know that this is a different Vance from the ‘Hope’ days.

The rolling, soaring path of the titular track that follows alludes to the grace Vance found by moving to the wilds of the remote Scottish highlands. He illuminates the little nothings of everyday life, the simple bits that make life joyous and worth living. Keen observation and genuine appreciation transforms what could have been a simple account of ‘joys’ into a stunning treatise on paying attention to the little things. Fellow Bangor musician Gary Lightbody wrote the same kind of song – a list of things that would make him happy – in last year’s ‘Lifening’. Insomuch as I am a fan of Snow Patrol, Vance has far outshone his more famous countryman with this song.

Later on the disc, two former tourmates lend their vocals to the album. This summer’s UK tour with Bonnie Raitt sparked the lovely ‘You and I’ and last winter’s American tour with Ed Sheeran forged a duet version of the already classic ‘Guiding Light’. Just as ‘Guiding Light’ regularly closes out Vance’s live sets, it takes this album out with a commanding presence, cementing Vance as the quintessential wandering Irish troubadour.

With a sound that sinks into you with grace and power, the music on ‘Joy of Nothing’ floats over and through you like a sweet scent on the breeze, with Vance’s rasp, honeyed and rough, anchoring it so it doesn’t blow away: “Let me fill your soul like you fill mine, let it be this way ‘til the end of time, draw me close to your breast, let us close our eyes”. This is a gorgeous album that stands up to and deepens with repeated listens. Vance has been streaming a new song every couple of days on a different music site for a few weeks. By release date, they will all be available on his own Web site. But you should run, not walk, out to the high street and purchase this beauty as soon as you can.


‘Joy of Nothing’ is available today from Glassnote Records today (26 August) worldwide, except in Australia and New Zealand, where the album does not come out until 13 September.

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8 Responses

12:03 pm
26th August 2013

New post: Album Review: Foy Vance @foyvance – The Joy of Nothing:

12:32 pm
26th August 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Foy Vance @foyvance – The Joy of Nothing:

1:54 pm
26th August 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Foy Vance @foyvance – The Joy of Nothing:

1:57 pm
26th August 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Foy Vance @foyvance – The Joy of Nothing:

4:48 pm
26th August 2013

LOVE this album! RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Foy Vance @foyvance – The Joy of Nothing:

[…] of an afternoon in Dublin, Foy Vance took the time out to talk to Cheryl about his week old release ‘Joy of Nothing’. The album includes Cheryl’s current frontrunner for song of the year, ‘Closed Hand, Full of […]

[…] UK and Ireland will be soon be treated to the same pleasure, as Vance begins touring his new album ‘Joy of Nothing’ on your side of the […]

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