Foy Vance

This artist performed at the VFMF in 2014

Foy Vance (Ireland)


The last time Foy Vance was here, a few years back, he was basking in the success of his first full length recording. His biography was an unlikely one. He was born in Ireland, and when Foy was an infant his father took the family to Oklahoma, which he used as a base for his work as an itinerant preacher. It sounds like a folk song. For five years Foy absorbed American music and developed a love of blues, soul and gospel music and had been shown rudimentary guitar technique. The die was cast.

The family returned to Belfast in the midst of ‘the troubles’ as the incipient civil war was called. Foy joined a soul band, Soul Truth, as lead singer. But it was acoustic guitar and self-authored songs that were his first love and it was to that he turned. He moved around some. One night, playing in a bar in the Canary Islands, Foy had some kind of experience that produced the phrase, “Jesus is coming like a thief in the night.” The next day he learned that his father had died. He also discovered that his difficulty writing songs had vanished and in the next eight months he wrote four albums’ worth. Two songs, recorded as demos, Gabriel and the Vagabondand Homebird, found their way onto the television show Grey’s Anatomy. This did not hurt Foy’s career. His first album was released and won Vance a number of friends and admirers. Now there is a second one, Joy of Nothing.

Foy Vance seems to have bridged the Atlantic and fused the essence of American music with the storytelling ability for which the Irish are renown. The latest songs are tales of love – some good love, bad love, sad love, love gone wrong. They also happen to contain some brilliant writing. A hundred years after THE DAY (Bloomsday) that inspired the book, Vance mentions another Irish writer, a painter, another songwriter and a philosopher – “Ulysses and eulogies/Gainsborough, Gainsbourg, Socrates/All mean no light, everything/Oh, the joy of nothing is a sweeter something/And I will hold it in my heart/I will hold it in my heart.” In another he quotes Johnny Cash.

A great voice, sharp mind and deep roots on both sides of the ocean have produced a singer and songwriter that is a welcome return guest.

By Gary Cristall, VFMF 2014 Program Guide