FOY VANCE – 2011
Some hail him as the new Van Morrison, which is praise indeed, so I was very
interested to see what all the fuss was about when he blew in to do his only
London gig at the Union Chapel.
Firstly, the beautiful surroundings of the Chapel at December time, bedecked
with a splendid Christmas tree gave the evening a sense of glorious
expectancy. The festive spirit seemed to have crystallised and the "goodwill to
all men" was ever present, the vibe was good so it was now up to the artist to
deliver.........no pressure then!
Breezing onto the stage, cracking jokes about singing hymns (well his dad
was in the bible business!) put the crowd at ease and allowed Foy to unfold
his magic on us. I knew in seconds this was going to be a very special
evening and by god it was!
The first thing you noticed about FV is his immensely soulful voice. Capable of
touching the very depth of your being a sound paradoxically feather-light and
grave, giving way to the grittiest blue-eyed soul you're ever likely to hear. It
has an incomparable soul-baring intensity, which seemed to bathe everything
around him in a shrouded mist.
Foy's striking set of dolorous songs kept the listener on the edge of their seat.
Each pick or strum of the guitar well chosen, each lyric well honed. The depth
of the material offers much grace and assurance and the voice conveys, in its
soaring peaks and writhing in breathy whispers - an alluring sensuality few, if
any could match.
Comparisons (Morrison, Waits, Bono! Buckley, Scott ...and I could go on) are
futile suffice to say this guy gives more bang for his buck than the lot put
together. Why Foy isn't a household name is beyond me but the trappings of
fame and celebrity are not his calling. He is a true artist challenging the
complexities of life and trying to find meaning through his exceptionally gifted
talent and his wondrous music.
Vance wastes no time in executing his manic mastery even on his first
offering of the night. He builds his opening gambit with aplomb until he's
literally trying to saw his guitar in two with a violin bow, which I've not
witnessed since Jimmy Page! The audience are enraptured by this guy, and
bill and coo accordingly.
'Be With Me' with its devastatingly simple yet ultra heavy riff brings our boy
down to more rawer, baser urges. FV is not beyond getting jiggy with it as this
gem denotes. Leaving the looping behind 'Treading Water' demonstrates
Foy's guitar skills, which have a beautifully suspended sound, enhanced by an
absolutely fresh chord structure, so sweet to the ear. His princely song writing
seems to know no bounds, not at all narrow or circumscribed, a true
troubadour with a free spirit. There's a nod to Jeff Buckley in this particular
one as his voice can really get up in the that sort of angelic register, few
singers can dream of.
He then shows his soft and delicate side with a hypnotic droning tune and his
accapella version of 'Will Ye Go Lassie Go' lifts the church like only a son of a
preacher man could do (No, not the Dusty track), and 'Shed A Little Light' with
It's 3 chords and the truth vibe shows us he can rock with the best of them.
And talking about rocking with the best of them 'Peace Hope And Love'
reminds me of a riff Peter Green would be proud of. The unholy noise he gets
out of his poor guitar defies description (Eno would love this and Michael
Brooke, never mind Daniel Lanois!)
His story telling is acute and 'Gabriel And The Vagabond' shows this
admirably. His soothing Irish lilt keeps his reverential audience spellbound
and his interpretation of 'Billie Jean' does like wise, ending up in a looped up
vortex of MJ yelps that I couldn't help bursting out with laughter too. There's a
wryness and wicked sense of humour lurking underneath that's for sure!
I could go on but suffice to say this guy is pretty godamn special (even a
couple proposed in the bar afterwards, touched by his music) but I want to
leave room for you to check out his marvellous miniatures, his uncanny
intimacy knows no bounds, this is the sound of inescapable retreat. Bravo!
Words Emrys Baird
From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz