Three years after signing with Glassnote Records and releasing Joy of Nothing, Foy Vance finds himself once again changing paths. As a current member of Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records label following their collaborations together, The Wild Swan marks his first album with the label. Despite these changes, the music isn’t quite so different; the album has its own vibe, but it’s still first and foremost a Foy Vance release as you would expect it, albeit honed to a point that allows it to reach new heights and surpass its predecessors.
The Wild Swan starts on a thoroughly unexpected note; the philosophical name-dropping of Noah Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution takes place over a rollicking rock and roll arrangement, with the distinct twang of a guitar and the blare of the horns giving it a distinctly soulful sound, one that’s almost fit for dancing more so than anything. The album quickly takes things down, however; while Upbeat Feelgood is similar musically, it’s more laid back and deliberate in the way it approaches things, with plenty of instruments moving in and out of the mix but never creating chaos. These elements persist over the first half of the album, before dipping back into the cleaner alternative rock of the lead single She Burns and Vance’s previous album.
When it comes to the album’s second half, there’s no denying that She Burns is the best that it has to offer; the slow burn building to the swell of strings and ambience making for an extremely satisfying track, and it has the album’s strongest arrangement alongside Noah Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution. The generally split style of the album’s tracks does show how much stronger the second half is, with the strings and piano of Ziggy Looked Me in the Eye being similarly powerful to She Burns, and the serene minimalism of The Wild Swans on the Lake being a generally perfect closing track to the album. The two halves work surprisingly well together, though, and there’s never a dull moment across the album’s twelve songs.
It’s easy to see that The Wild Swan is some of Vance’s best work. The split between the first half’s rock and roll elements and the second’s familiar yet polished alternative rock gives the album a perfect sense of variety, and the fact that both halves feature nothing but quality material makes it even better. With the likes of Jacquire King and Elton John as the album’s producer and executive producer respectively, a lot of work and talent went into the album to make it something great. The Wild Swan is definitely worthy of your attention.