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So here it is – my track by track review of Vance Joy’s full length debut, Dream Your Life Away:

Vance’s voice launches right in to ‘Winds of Change’ and it is a great lead-in to the album. It’s a romantic, wistful and atmospheric opener which delights in the details.

‘Mess is Mine’ is one of the stand out tracks. The drum beat, and intermittent percussive clapping, create a sense of drive and control. The lyrics are sweet and wistful again – one of my favourites is: ‘Do you like walking in the rain? / When you think of love, do you think of pain?’. Layers of instrumentation come in as the song progresses.

‘Wasted Time’ is a meditation on the nature of time, endurance and change in relationships and life in general. I love the powerful outro – the repetition of ‘the things that I thought would last / Well they’re fading, they’re fading / the feelings, I used to have / Well, they’re changing, they’re changing’ give this song a deeper edge than relationship nostalgia. It captures the fear or apprehension over the passing of time and the permanence of impermanence – the fear that something will ‘slip away’ and feeling small in the scheme of things (‘we look at the faces on your bedroom wall / well, nobody’s perfect at all / sometimes it makes me feel small’.

Ukulele hit ‘Riptide’ has perhaps suffered a bit of radio-play overkill but it is the perfect beach/surfing anthem with quirky, fun lyrics. It evokes scenes of Australia, where it’s gone platinum. It deserves its popularity but I hope people search further into Vance’s repertoire as well and don’t just rely on the mainstream radio stations for their music. It captures a sense of growing up and its vivacity has delighted festival goers.

‘Who Am I’ is another charmer, similar to the first two, posing the question ‘who am I, without you?’ but it is a prelude to the album’s gem.  ‘From Afar’ has been my personal favourite for a while. For me it is Vance’s supreme achievement and the best song on the album – it’s underrated thus far. The whole arrangement is beautiful and moving with some really poignant lyrics and filmic imagery (watch the video). In some ways Vance is trying less hard with his voice, it is deeper and steadier – more remorseful in its gritted determination as if it is trying to hold everything together. Every word is perfect – I can’t write them all down but my favourite line is ‘I’ve been living on the crumbs of your love / and I’m starving now’. There is an ache in every line and every subtle change. Vance names it as an old favourite of his, that he wrote back in 2010.  The outro is beautiful, a spinning majesty of gentle rhythms and soft shakers as percussion and soft background vocals (‘it shouldn’t come as a surprise / what I’m feeling, what I’m feeling now’). I can’t describe what this song makes me feel – it hooks onto your heart (‘you lined me up / across the room / two falling sparks / one willing fool / and I, I always knew / that I would love you from afar’). This is aching beauty in its purest form. 

 ‘We All Die Trying to Get It Right’ is another highlight. The title comes from a line in the film Infamous, about Truman Capote writing In Cold Blood. It’s a poignant reflection on life and human existence - the everyday struggle (‘think you’re in control until you’re not / and you’re so in love until you’re not’). Vance taps into his upper register for most of this song, lifting into a yearning wail. The sentiment comes across beautifully.

‘Georgia’ has a much more delicate guitar part than the other songs. It is a gentle, fragile riff which Vance says he’s had since 2007 but only had a lyrical breakthrough with the song at New Year. It’s a dreamy love song – part regretful, part celebratory.

I love ‘Red Eye’s’ soaring and swelling melodies – perfectly capturing the subject it’s trying to evoke. It is definitely one of the highlights for me. When I saw Vance play it in concert last year he explained that it was partly about the flight from Perth to Melbourne – a flight which departs late at night and arrives early the next morning. It’s got themes of heartache and separation in its story about a man flying home to find out where he stands with his girlfriend. Some of its ideas come from Al Pacino in the Scent of a Woman and his ideas about dogs.

I had mixed feelings when I heard ‘First Time’ – well I didn’t particularly like it. I thought it didn’t live up to the others – mainly due to the awkwardness of the lyrics and their similarity to Cat Stevens’ ‘First Cut is the Deepest’, though it has its own meaning when you engage with it. It’s slightly more from the Ed Sheeran school of songwriting. I felt it was a little unoriginal but the more I listen to it now I notice the strong rhythm throughout and some very effective shifts of pace. It is something different to sample on the album and it is growing on me as long as I get previous associations out of my head. The story behind it is pretty cool and literary – when Vance was reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway a scene stuck in his mind where the character hears a story for the first time, it makes a huge impact on him, and no matter how many times he hears it afterwards it is never quite the same. I like it when I think about it in that sense – it’s just the video and some of the lyrics are tied up in the physicality and the romance of it.

Then come the final three tracks. I don’t think these are as engaging as the first half of the album but they are still lovely to listen to. ‘All I Ever Wanted’ is a wistful plea for what everyone wants – more time. Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums inspired ‘Best That I Can’ – which is literally about trying to do the best that you can and trying not leave things ‘half-done’ or ‘half-said’. It gets slightly repetitive towards the end but Vance’s quivering vocal packs an emotional punch. ‘My Kind of Man’, like ‘Georgia’, has a lovely soft riff and was born from his uncle’s Facebook post about being a simple kind of man (possible homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd). The final message or piece of advice is ‘find a thing that you love / find a thing you understand’ – there is an importance in small acts of individual mastery and graciousness.

I adore the literary and arty influences on this album, Vance is not afraid to borrow from those that have influenced him and I think that mostly works well. He draws inspiration from lots of thought-provoking material and clearly reads and interprets the things around him. The folk heart of this album is magical and captivating, emotionally raw and lyrically stimulating – it’s an extremely worthy debut and pure quality from a songwriter dedicated to his craft, who takes his time (years) in making melody and lyrics click. When they do, it’s an atmospheric masterpiece.

Going to the exclusive playback of Vance Joy’s debut album ‘Dream Your Life Away’ was an interesting experience and not quite what I expected. I am glad I went and it was nice to meet Vance again, being almost a year since Alex and I interviewed him. It was a lovely venue – Angel Recording Studios – and there was free food which is always a winner.
Those 40 minutes during which the album played said a lot about the attention span of the modern human. Within seconds people were chatting noisily, gossiping or on their phones. They only woke up and engaged in the music when it was a song they’d heard on mainstream Radio One. It could have been a cunning experiment – very few people seemed to have come to actually listen. If Vance was watching it must have been disheartening. But it’s not a reflection on him or his music – it’s just the world we live in at the moment. Even the chaperones were on their phones. The lyrics are good and worth listening to so it was a shame they were often drowned out by the talking. I guess the event could have been made clearer – people clearly didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when Vance walked into the room, greeted everyone and then left before the CD player was switched on. One way of anticipating the modern person’s attention span would have been to have had some kind of visual accompaniment to the album – a slide show or a video – even Vance playing one or two of the tracks. Hilariously, at the end, everyone suddenly rushed up to him to fawn and compliment him on the album they’d just ignored for 45 minutes. When people were invited to mingle and chat to Vance it ended up being a queue to talk to him for 30 seconds.
Vance was shy but nice and genuine as always, I felt for him due to the awkward organisation of the event. He spent six years working on most of these songs and really deserves to have people listen to them. They are very thoughtfully written and I love the way that many, and his stage name, are inspired by various books that he’s read. There is a depth and worldliness to him that separates him from more mainstream guys-with-guitars like Ed Sheeran. His eyes are full of stories and I’m glad I got to hear a few of them over the past year.

The next post will be my review of the album. 
Zoom Info
Going to the exclusive playback of Vance Joy’s debut album ‘Dream Your Life Away’ was an interesting experience and not quite what I expected. I am glad I went and it was nice to meet Vance again, being almost a year since Alex and I interviewed him. It was a lovely venue – Angel Recording Studios – and there was free food which is always a winner.
Those 40 minutes during which the album played said a lot about the attention span of the modern human. Within seconds people were chatting noisily, gossiping or on their phones. They only woke up and engaged in the music when it was a song they’d heard on mainstream Radio One. It could have been a cunning experiment – very few people seemed to have come to actually listen. If Vance was watching it must have been disheartening. But it’s not a reflection on him or his music – it’s just the world we live in at the moment. Even the chaperones were on their phones. The lyrics are good and worth listening to so it was a shame they were often drowned out by the talking. I guess the event could have been made clearer – people clearly didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when Vance walked into the room, greeted everyone and then left before the CD player was switched on. One way of anticipating the modern person’s attention span would have been to have had some kind of visual accompaniment to the album – a slide show or a video – even Vance playing one or two of the tracks. Hilariously, at the end, everyone suddenly rushed up to him to fawn and compliment him on the album they’d just ignored for 45 minutes. When people were invited to mingle and chat to Vance it ended up being a queue to talk to him for 30 seconds.
Vance was shy but nice and genuine as always, I felt for him due to the awkward organisation of the event. He spent six years working on most of these songs and really deserves to have people listen to them. They are very thoughtfully written and I love the way that many, and his stage name, are inspired by various books that he’s read. There is a depth and worldliness to him that separates him from more mainstream guys-with-guitars like Ed Sheeran. His eyes are full of stories and I’m glad I got to hear a few of them over the past year.

The next post will be my review of the album. 
Zoom Info
Going to the exclusive playback of Vance Joy’s debut album ‘Dream Your Life Away’ was an interesting experience and not quite what I expected. I am glad I went and it was nice to meet Vance again, being almost a year since Alex and I interviewed him. It was a lovely venue – Angel Recording Studios – and there was free food which is always a winner.
Those 40 minutes during which the album played said a lot about the attention span of the modern human. Within seconds people were chatting noisily, gossiping or on their phones. They only woke up and engaged in the music when it was a song they’d heard on mainstream Radio One. It could have been a cunning experiment – very few people seemed to have come to actually listen. If Vance was watching it must have been disheartening. But it’s not a reflection on him or his music – it’s just the world we live in at the moment. Even the chaperones were on their phones. The lyrics are good and worth listening to so it was a shame they were often drowned out by the talking. I guess the event could have been made clearer – people clearly didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when Vance walked into the room, greeted everyone and then left before the CD player was switched on. One way of anticipating the modern person’s attention span would have been to have had some kind of visual accompaniment to the album – a slide show or a video – even Vance playing one or two of the tracks. Hilariously, at the end, everyone suddenly rushed up to him to fawn and compliment him on the album they’d just ignored for 45 minutes. When people were invited to mingle and chat to Vance it ended up being a queue to talk to him for 30 seconds.
Vance was shy but nice and genuine as always, I felt for him due to the awkward organisation of the event. He spent six years working on most of these songs and really deserves to have people listen to them. They are very thoughtfully written and I love the way that many, and his stage name, are inspired by various books that he’s read. There is a depth and worldliness to him that separates him from more mainstream guys-with-guitars like Ed Sheeran. His eyes are full of stories and I’m glad I got to hear a few of them over the past year.

The next post will be my review of the album. 
Zoom Info
Going to the exclusive playback of Vance Joy’s debut album ‘Dream Your Life Away’ was an interesting experience and not quite what I expected. I am glad I went and it was nice to meet Vance again, being almost a year since Alex and I interviewed him. It was a lovely venue – Angel Recording Studios – and there was free food which is always a winner.
Those 40 minutes during which the album played said a lot about the attention span of the modern human. Within seconds people were chatting noisily, gossiping or on their phones. They only woke up and engaged in the music when it was a song they’d heard on mainstream Radio One. It could have been a cunning experiment – very few people seemed to have come to actually listen. If Vance was watching it must have been disheartening. But it’s not a reflection on him or his music – it’s just the world we live in at the moment. Even the chaperones were on their phones. The lyrics are good and worth listening to so it was a shame they were often drowned out by the talking. I guess the event could have been made clearer – people clearly didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when Vance walked into the room, greeted everyone and then left before the CD player was switched on. One way of anticipating the modern person’s attention span would have been to have had some kind of visual accompaniment to the album – a slide show or a video – even Vance playing one or two of the tracks. Hilariously, at the end, everyone suddenly rushed up to him to fawn and compliment him on the album they’d just ignored for 45 minutes. When people were invited to mingle and chat to Vance it ended up being a queue to talk to him for 30 seconds.
Vance was shy but nice and genuine as always, I felt for him due to the awkward organisation of the event. He spent six years working on most of these songs and really deserves to have people listen to them. They are very thoughtfully written and I love the way that many, and his stage name, are inspired by various books that he’s read. There is a depth and worldliness to him that separates him from more mainstream guys-with-guitars like Ed Sheeran. His eyes are full of stories and I’m glad I got to hear a few of them over the past year.

The next post will be my review of the album. 
Zoom Info
Going to the exclusive playback of Vance Joy’s debut album ‘Dream Your Life Away’ was an interesting experience and not quite what I expected. I am glad I went and it was nice to meet Vance again, being almost a year since Alex and I interviewed him. It was a lovely venue – Angel Recording Studios – and there was free food which is always a winner.
Those 40 minutes during which the album played said a lot about the attention span of the modern human. Within seconds people were chatting noisily, gossiping or on their phones. They only woke up and engaged in the music when it was a song they’d heard on mainstream Radio One. It could have been a cunning experiment – very few people seemed to have come to actually listen. If Vance was watching it must have been disheartening. But it’s not a reflection on him or his music – it’s just the world we live in at the moment. Even the chaperones were on their phones. The lyrics are good and worth listening to so it was a shame they were often drowned out by the talking. I guess the event could have been made clearer – people clearly didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when Vance walked into the room, greeted everyone and then left before the CD player was switched on. One way of anticipating the modern person’s attention span would have been to have had some kind of visual accompaniment to the album – a slide show or a video – even Vance playing one or two of the tracks. Hilariously, at the end, everyone suddenly rushed up to him to fawn and compliment him on the album they’d just ignored for 45 minutes. When people were invited to mingle and chat to Vance it ended up being a queue to talk to him for 30 seconds.
Vance was shy but nice and genuine as always, I felt for him due to the awkward organisation of the event. He spent six years working on most of these songs and really deserves to have people listen to them. They are very thoughtfully written and I love the way that many, and his stage name, are inspired by various books that he’s read. There is a depth and worldliness to him that separates him from more mainstream guys-with-guitars like Ed Sheeran. His eyes are full of stories and I’m glad I got to hear a few of them over the past year.

The next post will be my review of the album. 
Zoom Info

Going to the exclusive playback of Vance Joy’s debut album ‘Dream Your Life Away’ was an interesting experience and not quite what I expected. I am glad I went and it was nice to meet Vance again, being almost a year since Alex and I interviewed him. It was a lovely venue – Angel Recording Studios – and there was free food which is always a winner.

Those 40 minutes during which the album played said a lot about the attention span of the modern human. Within seconds people were chatting noisily, gossiping or on their phones. They only woke up and engaged in the music when it was a song they’d heard on mainstream Radio One. It could have been a cunning experiment – very few people seemed to have come to actually listen. If Vance was watching it must have been disheartening. But it’s not a reflection on him or his music – it’s just the world we live in at the moment. Even the chaperones were on their phones. The lyrics are good and worth listening to so it was a shame they were often drowned out by the talking. I guess the event could have been made clearer – people clearly didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when Vance walked into the room, greeted everyone and then left before the CD player was switched on. One way of anticipating the modern person’s attention span would have been to have had some kind of visual accompaniment to the album – a slide show or a video – even Vance playing one or two of the tracks. Hilariously, at the end, everyone suddenly rushed up to him to fawn and compliment him on the album they’d just ignored for 45 minutes. When people were invited to mingle and chat to Vance it ended up being a queue to talk to him for 30 seconds.

Vance was shy but nice and genuine as always, I felt for him due to the awkward organisation of the event. He spent six years working on most of these songs and really deserves to have people listen to them. They are very thoughtfully written and I love the way that many, and his stage name, are inspired by various books that he’s read. There is a depth and worldliness to him that separates him from more mainstream guys-with-guitars like Ed Sheeran. His eyes are full of stories and I’m glad I got to hear a few of them over the past year.

The next post will be my review of the album. 

I thought I was dreaming when a Pink and Dallas Green collaboration surfaced. The fact there’s going to be a whole album of it is more than I could have asked for. For many this probably looks like a weird collaboration. Most people will only know Pink’s more mainstream hits – top 40 sellers played at parties, seemingly about getting drunk (some are written satirically) but to those who know the breadth of her repertoire, have been to one of her concerts and taken time to know her as an artist will realise that this is the most natural collaboration in the world. She is an honest, deep and emotional songwriter, parts of her concerts sometimes feel like group therapy. She writes the majority of her own songs – unlike Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna etc. I see them as performers and Pink as an artist. Although it’s often the image that’s portrayed, she doesn’t sit comfortably alongside these mainstream pop divas who are all show. There are some on every album – the ones that often aren’t released as singles but are very special pieces of songwriting that you have to work and search for. I’m talking ‘It’s All Your Fault’, ‘Ave-Mary-A’, ‘Beam Me Up’, ‘Crystal Ball’, ‘The Great Escape’, ‘Runaway’, ‘I Don’t Believe You’, ‘Dear Mr President’ and ‘I Have Seen the Rain’. Some of my favourite lyrics are in these songs.

The secret to Pink is that she is much more than meets the eye. She doesn’t wear over-sexualised, skimpy outfits just to sell records – she wears leotards because she’s actually doing gymnastics and aerobics while singing live during her concerts. She’ll often come on stage in jeans and a vest with an acoustic guitar. Her covers are of artists like Queen and Led Zeppelin. She was almost a professional gymnast and swings through the air, not as a gimmick but as an art form. Even a pop song like ‘Stupid Girls’ is saying something quite important. These songs critique themselves and her more ‘fun’ ones are done with a sense of humour and enjoyment. She’s struck a balance between superstardom and integrity, in my opinion. A friend invited me to one of her concerts years ago and I was sceptical because I’d only seen the woman with attitude who sung good but fairly mainstream pop songs like ‘Don’t Let Me Get Me’. The concert opened my eyes and it remains probably one of the best I’ve been to. Ever. And I’ve seen most of my favourite bands – bands whose overall catalogue I prefer but who didn’t necessarily reach me live like she did. What I am saying is, I understand why people may initially balk and cast her along with the others, but that is an error. Look a little deeper. The incredibly brave and personal video to ‘Fucking Perfect’ that she wrote for her daughter was so honest and beautiful – unashamed of being dark and gritty in places. Her voice is also unique, a great range, earnest, raw and powerful – more rocky than pop.

Dallas Green is a good songwriter, mostly acoustic based and amazing on guitar. It’s a musical match made in heaven.  This first single ‘You and Me’ is fairly basic and the lyrics are a little corny for my taste but it has made me look forward to the album. It’s very atmosphere and I like the way their voices work together. They have my support and I will certainly be getting the record.

The pairing are called You+Me 

Pink: @P!nk

Dallas Green: @cityandcolour

The album comes out October 13th and is available to pre-order

I’ve been searching like crazy trying to find something new and that stands out and finally I alighted upon Roo (Andrew) Panes. His name was inspired by a Winnie the Pooh character (which is reason enough to love him) after he had fallen into a river as a child. Hailing from Dorset, Panes plays a brand of classical folk which is infused with the ‘land’ and the natural world around him. He gained more recognition after briefly being invited to model in a Burberry campaign but he is more than just a handsome face.

I’ve picked three of Roo’s songs to recommend. I have chosen 'Silver Moon' (the video above) for it’s melody and overall sound, which is rich and sumptuous played on a 12 string guitar. Just watching the ripple of the strings in this tuning is mesmerising, like watching ripples cascading across the water. 

I have chosen 'Land of the Living' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay80nO7xzSo) because of its lovely lyrics which only need a simple guitar and string accompaniment. A couple of my favourite lines are 'don't want to be like the dust that settles' and ‘you’re not a slave to things you’ve done’. The scenes of childhood play and freedom are very evocative. It might just be me but I feel like there’s a hint of Celtic musical influence in this one. It’s a song that draws you in, an address which creates or assumes a spirit of community. It’s bittersweet, nostalgic and hopeful at the same time. 

The third song is 'Tiger Striped Sky' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w22uP1uJP5Y). The imagery, concept and gentle lull of this one had me hooked. On his website Panes discusses this song and its chronicling of the need for optimism. He states that there always two ways of looking at things - ‘either it’s challenging, and off-putting’ or ‘you can say that you love a challenge… you chose your context… and if you put yourself into a negative context, you’re going to come out with stripes on you.’ (www.roopanes.co.uk/about) It’s about starting over and trying something new, not being afraid to stray from what is known: 'I'll be giving up my stripes / be painting with new colours / beginning with dove-white'. 

Roo’s full length debut album is out on 06 October and is called ‘Little Giant’. I will certainly be giving it a listen 

Follow Roo at 

Twitter: @roopanes

Facebook: facebook.com/roopanes

A new songlet demo from Alex Morden Osborne which I’m posting because of the brilliant lyrics - I relate alot to this song in particular. It is called ‘Tremble’ and is about anxiety and panic:

'alarms that sound in my skin in the night / When the body fails and falls to panic, I flee from the light / The minutes move like honey through the holes that are my palms / And I tremble'

It sounds delicate and fragile, capturing the sense of a feeling in these words - the very physical effects of anxiety. Check out her other songs too - she has a way with words and melody. 

 

After a little time away Billy Lockett has announced he is soon to release a new EP with this song - a tribute to his father who sadly recently passed away. It’s a lovely piano tune sung very soufully. In it he poignantly asks his father for advice because 'he's a little lost inside' (The chorus goes 'Old man teach me a thing or two / I could learn alot from an old man telling me what to do / can we reverse the clock and go back to when you were my age’).

'I've got no regrets, only memories', Billy sings in a way that celebrates his father’s life rather than mourns his passing. It’s another heartfelt and well-produced song from Mr Lockett who’s commendable attitude and heart-on-sleeve songwriting is bound to keep winning him followers. I’m looking forward to hearing the new EP and love the cover design with the polaroid photo and variations in colour. It was a pleasure to interview Billy for York Vision and hope he gets the reward he deserves for all his hard work. 

This is the stunning final song from Charlie Simpson’s latest solo album Long Road Home. I only fully appreciated this song once I’d read the lyrics. Charlie’s vocal style throughout the album sticks to type so you have to look into the detail to find the treasure amongst what is a strong, consistent collection of songs. This is a wonderfully layered and instrumentally diverse song. It has violin accompaniments, mellow guitar riffs throughout and a languorous, melodic piano solo in its final stages. It’s subtlety masks some beautiful and thoughtful lyrics:

'A calm hand on a fabric that's already sewn / I'm still not ready to face these demons alone / The ivy crawls across my throne / Seems like everyone around here is slowly changing / And this is falling to my knees' 

There’s a sense of resignation within the perimeters of time, which never stops for human events. (‘But all that comes from this / is another year’). Time is passing regardless of tumultuous emotions and feeling trapped on your knees while everything’s changing. 

This is a brilliant lyric: 

'You told me that nothing was impossible / but there's nothing left'

Charlie’s shown in his acoustic solo career that he has a great power with words and that means, for me, his work is always worth paying attention to.

A new Ben Howard song featured on Radio 1 today called ‘End of the Affair’. It’s a similar sound and feeling to 2012’s Burgh Island EP - dark, moody and atmospheric but wait - there’s a sudden and unexpected switch to electronica about 5 minutes in. Is this signalling a new direction for Ben (a very popular one at the moment)? It’s interesting and I’ll reserve judgement (I’m assuming there’s going to be a forthcoming album). Ben’s stunning guitar-work will hopefully live on nevertheless. 

Album Review: George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage

Here is my Vision review of George Ezra’s debut album. The quality and tone of his voice as well as his more bluesy songs really make him stand out among current artists. ‘Listen to the Man’ is the sound of the sixties - sometimes I swear Ezra could be a young relation of Johnny Cash. I also love ‘It’s Just My Skin’, it has a lot of imagery related to depression and is very powerful and surprising on the deluxe edition:

'Well I was never lonely 'till the day that I was born, / Since that day I masquerade in a skin that I have worn, / With at least three separate individual minds'

'Black dog, black dog, that I'll never know / Oh black dog haunts your mind, your world, your soul'

 

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