Earlier this year, Ragz Nordset digitally reissued her compelling Little Stings EP through Mellowtone Records (our review here). The singer, originally from Norway, joins us for our Why I Love column where she writes about the superb Foy Vance.
The Masque, November 2009.
In the darker side of the year back in 2009, I had the pleasure of opening for Foy at what was then the Liverpool Masque. The night was more on the quiet side, but the venue had an emerging buzz moving through the air. I didn’t know Foy’s music well at this point and was not quite aware of what I’d be witnessing later on that night. My own gig and performance I must admit, I do not remember – At all.. Not surprising though, seeing many years have passed and many performances have happened since.
What came after, however, I can still feel, still hear … as if the notes are still moving up my skin and the air of that night still rests around me.
The venue slowly started to fill up as Foy’s set was coming closer. I remember it as a calm and curious feeling as people sat down on the floor as close to the stage as physically possible, clearly wanting to be one with the performance about to commence. With Foy’s first words, something happened to me, my breathing changed and suddenly every note sung seemed so close and tangible it was almost like I could touch them all.
Foy is a true storyteller, a writer that has the ability to tell his story in a way that makes you feel like he is telling yours. I remember being flooded with images of my own experiences as he made his way through tails of pain. love and hope. Halfway through what I remember to be his last song, Two Shades of Hope, I noticed that I had started crying, quietly but excessively. And I was not alone. It was all so close, so real, so recognisable and intimate in a way I am yet to experience since. I have seen Foy Vance play many times since, and he always brings me back to this space.
I have fallen in love with many of Foy’s songs over the years, such as Ziggy Looked Me in the Eye, The Joy of Nothing, Indiscriminate Act of Kindness and Guiding Light. But the one that never leaves me is still the song that had my tears hitting the wooden floor in the Liverpool Barfly that first night in 2009, Two Shades of Hope. Foy writes songs that feel like winding roads leading to breath-taking viewpoints. As the words form the sentences, you turn corners with a sense of direction. As the point is made, the landscape opens your own inner perspective.
Two Shades of Hope has one of the most tangible song lyrics I have experienced live. It is poetic, bleak and beautiful and tells stories of hope held and hope lost. How losing hope is what breaks your heart, when denial no longer works and you have to accept the truth, what is no longer, your pain. He writes intimately and honestly about how hope emerges through our experiences; how it disappears and is regained, and he sings it as if just to you.
Though I listen to his songs and albums often I hope to live this this very lyric live again soon and experience Foy’s powerful musical presence as this is how he is best heard. He is an artist that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated as he carries a room and a story in a way that allows you to truly live it and share it.
The girl that holds the hand
of the somewhat distant man,
though she do everything that she can.
Still his heart set sail for distant lands
and she wonders sometimes if he knows,
how she feels like a trampled rose.
Baby hope deals the hardest blows.
Two Shades of Hope, Foy Vance (Hope, 2007)
Many thanks to Ragz Nordset for her words on Foy Vance; a singer who is well worth your time if you haven’t listened to him before.
Foy Vance: Website
You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists, here.