Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
It's the incredible misery of happiness that we're never quite able to figure out. We are eternally stumped by what is really going to make us happy and we're surprised by what winds up wounding us so deeply that we double over and stay that way - waiting for that good Samaritan, or some uplifting plug from a bottle of drink, for that temporary pick-me-up. There are only a few things that can be counted on to destroy us. We KNOW that we will never survive love. It's the one thing that we willingly seek and are perversely attracted to that will find a way to get the last cackle. It will take us into its mouth and pretend that it's playing with us - like a cat does to a mouse - flinging us this way and that, placing us down and backing away, giving us the sense that there was an opening for an escape, if we wanted it. We're always so weakened by the chase and the tossing that there's no chance of getting away. We admit to defeat and just let our heartbeat die down.
Foy Vance has had love viciously manhandle him and he, most likely, has used love to serve up some hell as well. He's been loved and he's been hated by those who used to love him. With his latest album, "Joy Of Nothing," the songwriter from Northern Ireland has crafted a masterwork of that sweet hurt of love and more so what it does to the men and women involved with all of the fallout. Vance works with those familiar refrains of finding and holding onto a guiding light, of falling back on one's resiliency (with the backing vocal help of Bonnie Raitt on the excellent cut, "You and I), of shutting off from the world and living behind guarded emotional walls, of knowing the contents of one's soul better than anyone else ever could and of ripping everything up, throwing the scraps into the air and just going for whatever gusto might still be left to have in this life of such short terms.
The album presents a collection of 10 stories that show -- with rousing, tear-the-sky-out-of-the-ceiling and all of the bodies out of the ground passion and equally impassioned tenderness - how everyone chooses their own verses. They often find their ways to tragic ends, but Vance reminds us constantly that we reap what we sow and sometimes we're reaping very little. He presents the sadness that we find in our coffers as something valuable, as something that shouldn't be dismissed as failure. He presents the sadness that he's collected as rich with importance - with as much significance to his happiness as anything else.
The songs on "Joy Of Nothing" are all heartbreakers. They are uplifting in their many forms of destruction. Vance presents to us broken love and trampled upon happiness in a way that makes us want more of it, as if it is exactly what we should be looking for. He gives us people who aren't alright, but will be alright. You can sense that they will find happiness when it's meant for them. They will burden their hearts and they will rid them of the black smoke that comes from fried wires and belts, when the entire spirit feels like it's breaking down. These are anthems that remind us that the spirit always rebounds. Vance just hugs tight the loved ones that haven't left and he twists the corners of his mustache a little tighter, reveling in the light pinks and soft oranges of his many twilights, braced for another verse.
Foy Vance Official Site