Award-winning Northern Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance will release two unique new albums this year, ‘From Muscle Shoals’ and ‘To Memphis’, starting with ‘From Muscle Shoals’, out June 28 on Ed Sheeran’s label Gingerbread Man Records.
Seeking inspiration for his fourth album, the follow-up to 2016’s acclaimed ‘The Wild Swan’, Vance was digging out old demos when he came across a handful of songs he had labelled ‘Soul’ and ‘Americana’. This discovery became the catalyst for the two new albums, with the ‘Soul’ songs providing the genesis of ‘From Muscle Shoals’ – recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – and the ‘Americana’ songs forming the basis of ‘To Memphis’, recorded at the equally storied Sam Phillips Recordings Studios in Memphis. The two albums are intended to be companion pieces and pay homage to the deeply rooted traditions that influenced Vance’s approach to songwriting.
“When I had demoed the ‘soul’ songs years ago I had tried to emulate the old school southern soul sound of Muscle Shoals,” he explains Vance. “Impossible of course, but these were just sketches of what the songs could be. The only way to truly do them justice is to go to the source of that sound. That room at FAME housed some of the hardest working musicians and artists known to man. Rick Hall (El Presidente) along with a group of musicians called the Swampers and a sterling cast of soul legends like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Picket, Percy Sledge, Etta James and The Staples Singers to casually name a few. Something in the rawness of this music really affected me from a young age and I had always considered making a record in this vein, so when I saw this collection of songs I knew immediately where I needed to go to document them. I suppose that is really what this project is. Documenting songs that would otherwise go unheard.”
‘From Muscle Shoals’ was co-produced by Vance with Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes, John Paul White, Nicole Atkins) and features two of the original ‘Swampers’, the Muscle Shoals house band that played on so many iconic hits of the 60s & 70s, Spooner Oldham (keys) and David Hood (bass), alongside a crack team of session musicians and singers.
Vance reveals that one of the songs on the album was originally written for Tom Jones. “Tom liked it but said it was too personal and would prefer it in‘ the third person.I can respect that. I wonder can you guess which one it is? I’ll leave it to your imagination.”
‘To Memphis’, the companion album to ‘From Muscle Shoals’ will follow in September. “I have always been such a massive fan of American Folk Music in all its many forms. There is a certain candidness to it,” says Vance. “The ‘Americana’ songs proved intriguing as some where very old and written somewhat wryly, but a good few were songs written in the last six months that felt like they belonged to these older ones in some way.”
There will be new studio album from Vance in 2020, a more traditional follow-up to ‘The Wild Swan’. Keith Urban recently covered the track ‘Burden’ from ‘The Wild Swan’ at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards in Las Vegas, where he won Entertainer Of The Year. ‘The Wild Swan’ also contains the Radio 2 playlisted singles ‘Coco’, ‘Upbeat Feelgood’, and ‘Noam Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution’. Vance’s previous album, ‘Joy Of Nothing’, won the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Prize for best album’ in 2013.
Stay tuned for news of an autumn 2019 UK tour.
Read a letter from Foy Vance about the new albums here www.foyvance.com/letter/
‘From Muscle Shoals’ tracklist:
1. You Get To Me
2. You Love Are My Only
3. Moving On
4. Sunshine or Rain
5. Pain Never Hurt Me Like Love
6. Be With Me
7. Good Time Southern Soul
8. Hard Work
9. I’m Coming Over
10. Make it Rain