This is one to grow into, play by play. Its urgent compassion, intrinsic soulfulness, hopeful spirit and luscious tunefulness are too rich to wear out easily... and you get plenty of that Van Morrison grit-and-growl.
Label: Gingerbread Records
Time: 12 tracks / 44 mins
Keen to avoid fame, but respected by the cognoscenti in the music industry, Vance enjoys a career that works on his terms. That means a lot of live performances, but only a few albums over the last decade – which makes this one as special as it sounds.
Vance doesn’t share the faith of his father, who was a minister in the States, but he was raised with gospel music in the atmosphere and Christian values in his blood.
That soul oozes powerfully through all his music and not least here. Although he grew up in America, he is Irish and a Van Morrison grit-and-growl takes over as soon as his passion and volume rise.
There’s not really any filler, and what you get has depth.
His first album was called Hope and that edifying spirit pervades the collection. The gorgeous, spacious, atmospheric and almost majestic “Be Like You Belong” starts with the words, “I still have hope;” while “Burden” is a promise to be there in someone else’s difficulty.
Singer-songwriters who tour constantly can’t hide behind studio trickery and need songs that work when performed unadorned. This is a disc full of such tuneful and character-rich songs.
It opens with the twangy energy of “Noam Chomsky is a Soft Revolution,” which has the wonderful Mike Farris tucked away on backing vocals, before getting soulful on “Upbeat Feelgood,” which is just what it says, if in a chilled way. It’s one to put a contented smile on your face.
Vance sings like a male Joni Mitchell on “Casanova;” there’s a real poetry to the lyrics on “She Burns;” radio-friendly and mellow, “Coco” is timeless; you may find yourself closing your eyes to soak up “Bangor;”and on it goes, each track having something noteworthy.
This is one to grow into, play by play. Its urgent compassion, intrinsic soulfulness, hopeful spirit and luscious tunefulness are too rich to wear out easily. This Wild Swan is untamed, but elegant as its wingbeats ride the air.