Foy Vance – From Muscle Shoals
We live in the golden age of fan entitlement. It’s something we’re all guilty of to some degree. No matter how much our favourite artists, shows, movies etc offer us, it never quite ticks every box. The answer very rarely lies in nagging and complaining though, rather the key is faith and patience. Though I’ve loved all of Foy’s records to varying degrees, there has been a quiet voice in the back of my mind for some time asking for two things: for him to explore his soulful side more, and for a few old favourites to finally have proper studio versions. With the first of two albums in 2019, Foy delivers on both counts.
From Muscle Shoals has all the hallmarks of a classic soul album. The kind of record that you pluck from some dusty shelf in your youth out of curiosity, and after a few spins it changes your outlook on life and music. Motown once ruled the world, and it was many people’s first real experience with music (mine included), and this is one of the few modern records I’ve heard to have that same magic. The lush brass and commanding vocals capture the warmth of the summer sun and bottle it up for the winter months. Soul has always been the music of love, and this record certainly carries on that tradition. It’s hard not to be swept away by tracks like ‘Sunshine or Rain’ and ‘I’m Coming Over’ when you can practically feel them wrap around you and hold you close.
The most rewarding part of the album however remains that some of the old live favourites that first made me fall in love with Foy’s music are finally seeing the light of day. And while I love ‘Moving On’, it’s the fully fledged rendition of ‘Pain Never Hurt Me Like Love’ that proves to be the greatest joy. My only slight quarrel is with the new versions of ‘Be With Me’ and ‘Make It Rain’. The former opened his first studio album in style, while the latter was the highlight of his first live album. While neither of the versions here detract from the songs, I don’t feel like they really add anything either. Truth be told though, if the only fault of the album is having to hear two great songs again, then From Muscle Shoals can certainly be called a triumph. It is everything I could have asked for as Foy’s definitive soul record. Now if ‘Like An Animal’ can make an appearance on his Americana album later in the year, I can die a happy man…