There’s always been a certain appeal in Foy Vance’s inclusiveness.
Despite working and occasionally touring with heavyweights like Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Kacey Musgraves, and Alicia Keys, the Northern Irish musician prefers to keep a healthy aloofness from the industry, doing his own thing on his own time.
It’s an approach that works to his advantage on his latest offering, Signs of Life, the product of months of self-reflection and assembled in the relative stillness and isolation of 2020.
It bears signs of a pandemic and a world in tumult, but even more so into Vance’s own concurrent personal struggle.
“Sapling,” the first single, opens the album with a cathartic swell of emotion and captures the spirit of renewal that Vance brought into writing and recording the album, as well as offering a window into Vance’s mental state at the time as he attempted to turn around a problematic relationship with drugs and alcohol.
Much more than a vehicle for its radio-friendly, folk-rock singles, the real gems can be found scattered in between on Signs of Life, some of them unfolding more slowly and rewarding a more attentive listen.
Ultimately, the magic holding Signs of Life together is Vance’s songwriting, which demands attention and keeps things interesting when they might otherwise end up plodding.
On a casual listen, the nuance and finesse that Vance brings to tracks like the album closer “Percolate” could easily be missed.
On tour, the new songs will no doubt travel well with his knack for live performance and the energy and stage presence he’ll bring to them, showing Vance back on his game.
Tuesday, May 10, at The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.
Call 703-549-7500 or visit www.birchmere.com.
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