Foy Vance’s The Wild Swan is the smart and compact new studio album from the Northern Irish underdog. Musically, the album is faultless. Given the seal of approval by executive producers Elton John and Ed Sheeran, the tracks are well delivered, each one tuneful and affable alike. In spite of this, The Wild Swan is neither a particularly exciting nor eyebrow raising record.
Individual and hedonistic, album opener Noam Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution is an optimistic and inspiring track. Soulful and upbeat here, Vance explores a bluegrass-groove sound quite atypical to the bulk of The Wild Swan. The punchy sound is a stark contrast to much of the album, where the resounding laid back Americana folkish vibe almost acts as a whitewash over the whole thing. There is a rolling woozy effect that while pleasant, makes the whole record a slightly dull affair.
In truth, every track on the album is strong – She Burns is a great indie pop record and should do well if acknowledged as one; Casanova embraces the Americana pop trend, sounding somewhere like a James Bay track with the vocals of Ray LaMontagne, while Be Like You Belong is a pining ballad exhibiting Foy Vance’s fantastic vocal talent. The problem with the record is that there is no definitive genre, yet every song kind of sounds the same. The musical themes put in place to tie the album together are weak and therefore lost and mistaken for monotony.
The Wild Swans On The Lake however is a fabulous finish to the album for Foy Vance. The singer heeds the opportunity to celebrate his musical roots, he revels in his Northern Irish heritage performing a traditional sounding Celtic folk song – his rugged talent is overwhelmingly apparent, the raw and unpolished sound is refreshing, almost breathtaking, and one can’t help but question why the entire album did not follow this path, instead of chasing the Americana folk trend.
Foy Vance’s The Wild Swan is a strong record, though it is not ground breaking the sounds are definitely worth a listen, just perhaps not all at the same time.