We had the pleasure of speaking to the charismatic indie/folk artist Foy Vance on the subject of his forthcoming album Signs Of Life last week. After a short but sweet conversation, a big scoop of insider info was collected and sprinkled throughout this article for your reading enjoyment, so grab a hot drink and prepare to be primed for the newest, emotive and eagerly awaited release.
After 20 years of constant touring, Vance finally parked up and got off the road. During this extended period, he’d come to realise a few bad habits and coping mechanisms had become addictions -“So, I realised, I had so many bad habits here, I hit a wall; It was my manager that made me get help”.
Signs Of Life is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel for Vance, and his second record to be released on friend and fellow musician Ed Sheeran’s label, Gingerbread Man Records. It’s fair to say that the ‘bromance’ between the two artists is strong. As well as having matching tattoos with each other, Vance also had this to say about him: “I think Ed is one of the most remarkable humans, outside of being an artist, that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing”. When asked if he could steal one thing from Ed, what would it be? Vance answered simply ‘his drive’ (and no not his hard drive, which would certainly be worth it!).
The new record was produced during a time of global struggle. Many creatives were put out of a job completely and made to feel useless in 2020, which was devastating for some, but fuel for creative fire for others. When asked which end of the spectrum it was for him, Vance replied, “Absolute beepin‘ bliss”, his language colourful and tone so precise it emphasised how much the radio silence of the pandemic appealed to him. “Back then I thought, I don’t want to talk about this, because everyone else is having a hard time and actually, it was exactly what I needed”.
At his home in Aberfeldy, in the Highlands of Scotland, Vance relished the time and space needed to be productive and introspective with music once again, with nature being a major factor in what keeps him grounded. Vance described a highlight of making the album being when – after months in the studio with nothing to show for it – he finally wrote ‘Sapling’, which in his words was “the catalyst for Signs of Life”, and after that, more songs took shape.
The album has many a track that grabs you by the heartstrings and doesn’t let go, but in answer to which song is the most intense to play live, Vance states, “Usually, I’m quite good at inhabiting the song and all the feelings of it, but when I sing ‘If Christopher Calls’, I can’t sing that chorus without swallowing a lump” (The song was written for his wife about her late Father).
The artwork for the album is almost as striking as its content. Featuring two portraits of Vance by photographer James Miller, in one Vance is dressed as a pugilist and in the other, a woman. When asked why these shots were chosen, he remarked, “I enjoyed every second of that day (of the photoshoot) and that’s all that matters. I went from a man to a woman and as soon as I saw the pictures it made complete sense.” Despite being seemingly abstract conceptually, somehow he’s right – the images are perfectly suited to the aesthetic of the record, and we must say Vance is well suited to the pugilist look (not to mention the long blond hair).
The new album reflects addiction and the struggle to be free of it; love, loss and realisation all culminated into a beautiful collection of heart wrenching songs that are hugely relatable after a roller-coaster couple of years. It represents what we are all feeling; a re-emergence into a new world, both physically and introspectively. If this brief insight into Vance’s curious character and down-to-earth creative process hasn’t inspired you to pre-order the music – or at least Google the album cover – then you are missing a real treat. A truly artful record that comes from an earnest place, which promises to reveal more layers and depth of meaning on repeated listens.
With it’s warm, sparse production and slew of heartfelt ballads, this is a perfect record for an autumn release, to be digested at leisure with a glass of whiskey beside an open fire. Signs Of Life is available on all major platforms as of September 10th 2021.