- 29 Jul 19
Soul Star Of The County Down
When he finished touring in 2017, Bangor belter Foy Vance found himself with room to breathe for the first time in twenty years. Taking this space to record songs he had stockpiled, he divined two collections, one he labelled ‘Soul’, the other ‘Americana’. Now, if you’re going to record songs of a soul bent, and you get the chance to actually do it, then where better to decamp to than FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama? This Mecca of soul has played host to everyone from Otis to Aretha, The Stones to Wilson Pickett.
This is all fan boy stuff to be sure, but Vance has only gone and pulled it off. Right from the throw-in of ‘You Get To Me’ the warm sound of that hallowed room keeps on seeping out of the speakers, whether it be the bright brass stabs of ‘You Love Are My Only’, the tight guitar riff of ‘Moving On’, or the electric piano – that’s Spooner Oldham for Christ’s sake! - which glides along behind ‘Sunshine Or Rain’, guiding the song to its righteous chorus. ‘Be With Me’ and ‘Good Time Southern Soul’ –a perfectly accurate alternate album title - call for tables to be pushed back to make some room for dancing, and you could throw a shape to the slinky ‘Hard Work’ while you’re at it. It’s all beautifully produced and played - the brass and the backing vocals are just right - and the songs are up to scratch, but at the centre of it all is Vance’s voice, nowhere more so than on the country-soulisms of the great ‘I’m Coming Over’ whereupon, frankly, he sings his bollocks off.
As for that pile of songs labelled ‘Americana’, they’re up next on the forthcoming To Memphis. If this marvellous piece of wax is anything to go by, that’ll be another winner.