Foy Vance – Signs of Life
“Signs of Life is about re-emergence”. Award-winning Irish singer/songwriter and musician Foy Vance says his fourth studio album is inspired by a desire to survive and rebound, a renewal of hope after the isolation and despair of lockdown.
The record was conceived and created mostly by Vance, with the help of producer Gareth Dunlop. After a long period of constant touring, lockdown in 2020 was hard, yet also liberating. About rising up from the depths of pandemic depression, Signs of Life also addresses his coming to terms with addiction and achieving sobriety.
Grave, pensive with piano chords like falling rain, the intro of opening track (and the artist’s “first sign of life”) Sapling evolves into Springsteen-esque soaring vocals and asks, “Am I strong enough?”. Romantic and passionate, the piece has a distinct country accent. Moody, with gentle guitar and heartfelt singing, We Can’t Be Tamed expresses a desire to break free (“Want to be wilder”).
The titular song’s entrancing chords and beat, combined with an almost hymnal merging of the artist’s voice with muted chorus, result in a soul-stirring work motivated by his struggles with addiction. Alt-rock with a little country, Roman Attack fluctuates between quiet, subtle and sombre tones and bursts of dynamic energy.
People Are Pills – referring to human inconsistency – is unusual, discordant, with intriguing mixed vocals and waves of falsetto interludes. With a strong, sultry beat and passionate singing by Vance, Time Stand Still (also a single) hails from a wrenching time in his life when he realised, with the help of his manager, that he had to give up his addictions, and how hard the road ahead would be.
A beautiful, soulful folk ballad If Christopher Calls is winsome and dreamlike, written for his wife about her late father; the track showcases Vance’s superb vocal range and songwriting mastery. System is tenderly upbeat, with mellifluous guitar licks, soothing, poignant song and a sweetly lyrical refrain.
As its title suggests, the exceptional Hair of the Dog tackles the musician’s fight with drugs and alcohol: “Don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel high…”. Wistful with soft guitar, then fast-paced and fiery, the track movingly demonstrates the conflict between craving “hair of the dog” and yearning for sobriety (“You’ve taken everything that’s good within me”).
The powerful Resplendence ponders the state of the world, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and love as a refuge. With rich piano, strong vocals and whimsical notes, it suggests that, despite the chaos, there is hope. Haunting, vivid, feverish, with compelling vocals The Republic of Eden is a deeply philosophical piece about revolution and survival: “Oh, I am a raging fire, I’m standing still, now breathing, Yes, I am the revolution in the Republic of Eden”.
Melancholy, fervent, the evocative It Ain’t Over contains magnificent instrumentals and some of Vance’s best singing. Finally, Percolate is a gorgeous, sentimental ballad about the hope of love’s return (“You may come back riding on the moon”), also echoing the album’s themes of pain, renewal, optimism and faith in times of crisis.
Foy Vance’s Signs of Life is an accomplished and impassioned work with impressive, heart-stirring sound and lyrics. His message of hope and triumph over adversity provides a beacon of light during tough times. Via his own struggle, his love shines through in his music.
Signs of Life is released on 10th September 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Foy Vance’s website here.
Watch the video for the single We Can’t Be Tamed here: