Must-Have Album Review: Signs of Life By Foy Vance

The Gingerbread House

Foy Vance recently released his third album with the illustrious Ginger Bread Man label that was created by Ed Sheeran back in 2015. ‘Signs of Life’ is a booming and blossoming lyrically driven powder keg that explodes from the outside in. The Irish singer/songwriter is no stranger to making influential music, each one of his records is either devoured by the industry or digested into the European underground.

The main reason our readers would absolutely have to have this album in their collection is the sheer brilliance of the songwriting. Vance has a grandiose delivery that punches through arrangements and gives the music a life-sized monument. That’s what they did back in the ’80s when artists began to master electronic components, vastly improving delivery.

The new album comes following a pivotal time in his life, during which he confronted his demons. “I had my first extended period off the road after 20 years of constant touring,” he says. “And I realized, ‘Wow, I drink two bottles of wine and at least a half-bottle of vodka a day.’ I’d start the day with codeine to get myself sorted, and I’d smoke joints throughout the day. So I realized, ‘I have so many incredibly bad habits here.’ I’m showing all the signs of death, getting ashen, grey, smoking more, drinking more… I hit a wall.”

Creation Station

The title of his latest single, “Time Stand Still”, came from the realization that he had a serious journey ahead of him to get better. “It was my manager that made me get help,” he explains. “And in those moments, you do wish time would stand still. Can’t I just stop here and sit at this moment before I have to take up that mantle?”

Recording for the album occurred in Foy’s home studio on the shores of Loch Tay in Highland Perthshire, as well as at another set-up in nearby Dunvarlich House and at Plan B’s Kings X studio in London. Written and played more or less entirely by Foy, Signs Of Life features input from young Northern Irish producer Gareth Dunlop, who recalls a chance encounter with the performer that set him on his music career path many years earlier.

“When I was around 14 years old, I wandered into a coffee shop in Belfast and saw Foy playing in the corner,” Dunlop explains. “I was completely spellbound by what I heard. It was a lightbulb moment that sent me on the road of wanting to discover my own voice and musicality. I would never have imagined that I would be co-producing a record with him 18 years later and that I would be just as inspired and spellbound by what he does.”

Dunlop and Vance deliver a gripping album. It’s music that can’t be categorized into a genre. The record bleeds with the life juices of joy, love, and sorrow. We are pleasantly folding this treasure inside our collection of must-have albums.

Below are our favorite songs from the project.

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