Artist: Vance Joy
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Genre: Alternative Folk
Record Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: March 22, 2013
Vance Joy has risen to fame in the past two years and is most notably known for his folk inspired and natural sounding song “Riptide”. James Gabriel Keogh better known as Vance Joy is an Australian singer-songwriter who used to be a football player. He chose his stage name because of a novel he read in which a wise old grandfather was named Vance Joy. Vance Joy is very wise when it comes to his song writing. However, his other alternative works are not as well known as “Riptide”, which topped the charts as number 1, for many consecutive weeks. The EP that first put Joy into the music scene was actually “God Loves You When You’re Dancing”, which presented his style. Artists tend to find their signature style later on, but he mastered it from the start. “Emmylou” a track on the EP is a song that stood out. It is effortlessly haunting, emotional, honest, vulnerable and underrated. It is impressive that his writing skills are at such a high level.
Artists tend to have their eras of styles and right now in the budding of Vance Joy’s career. His style is emotional folk music. “Emmylou” sounds similar to “Georgia” a later work of his on album “Dream Your Life Away”. Not only are they both intimate names that makes the songs relatable, but they both feature simple riffs on the acoustic guitar and Joy’s raspy voice. The guitar picking pattern is dreamy and dark in a minor key. Then, Vance Joy’s voice is introduced with a hallow timbre and shockingly no backtrack to it. Artists do not usually have just their voice as it can expose flaws, but all that did was show his pureness. It presents the haunting quality that the lyrics display openly. Throughout the verses, Joy’s falsetto is used in many lines and sounds incredible. He has a naturally beautiful voice fit for the acoustic melodies. There are slight syncopation accents in the guitar riffs throughout the song and a vintage quality to it as well.
There are no concerns raised at all through the song and it is hard to pick out any part that is lacking when we hear his emotional voice. The song is raw with the thin layer of guitar there is a sweet sorrow ring to it. It resembles a mourning lullaby. In the final bridge, “You are loved” is repeated over and over with such pain and the tambourine is used in the backtrack. It is perhaps the most endearing part of the entire song. The “You are loved” is then layered with the chorus weaving all aspects together to create one mosaic. Shakers are used during the pauses and overall the instrumental choice fit the mood of the song well. At the 2:50 point, the beat drops with a dramatic addition to the song. Finally his faded voice closes the song with “My Emmylou”. There is an uncanny amount of hurt and pain when he barely grasps the final two words. They come out as a strain in his voice.
The lyrics are delicate and as well raw. They tell a story starting off with the words, “Don’t go losing sleep scared of shadows… see it’s just a chair, see the clothes hang there.” The sweet sorrow is conveyed when he sings, “You wear your socks to bed, you wear your socks to bed, that’s what I do”. He is reminiscing what used to be and what connected them. These lyrics create a personal quality and relate the narrative not only to Vance Joy himself but to us as well. There is no question that his song writing is a masterpiece.
“Emmylou” is crafted to perfection which cannot be said for many songs. The rest of the EP is just as solid and “Play with Fire” is another good track stamped with Vance Joy’s signature qualities. Vance Joy is passionate and one to look for in the industry. Anybody can tell that he is a real artist who sings his heart out. Honestly, if Joy sang his grocery list, there is no doubt that there would be an audience and some tears.