We are delighted to premiere this live video of ‘Sapling’, which was recorded at St Pancras Old Church at the launch show for Foy Vance’s recent album ‘Signs of Life’. The acoustics in the church are excellent and the building provides a dramatic, atmospheric backdrop for Vance’s performance. Over gently insistent piano notes, Foy Vance delivers this beautifully uplifting song in heartfelt style. His vocal is typically characterful and full of emotional resonance: “But man alive! What a blinding light! // It must be what it’s like when worlds collide // Especially when he sees her…But if I woke in the morning to find you were gone // I know I’d try and find the will to be strong // But am I strong enough?” The words carry such power, the sort that comes from openness, honesty and vulnerability and the audience, the congregation, in the old church are spellbound.
In November of 2017, Vance stopped touring for the first time in two decades. He finished his final show at London’s Union Chapel and didn’t have another date in the diary. He’d reached a point in life when he had developed so many bad habits that he was: “…showing all the signs of death, getting ashen, grey, smoking more, drinking more, smoking more… So, yeah, I hit a wall.” He honestly assessed himself and made real changes, dealing with his addictions and lifestyle: “…and the next time when I went in the studio, when my head felt right, I had the ‘Sapling’ chords – then those words came. When I wrote Sapling I had a daughter and a son. Between then and now, I proposed to my wife, married her the next day – she didn’t know anything about it, it was a secret wedding up in the woods near Kenmore. I flew her soul sister over from Australia to marry us. It was a beautiful, wild night.” Vance sings: “I once built a bower, I could build you a home,” a line full of meaning, referring to his partner moving to be with him in Scotland and his desire to ensure that he was offering more than just a house, more than just a place to live. It was a time for renewal and Vance began to show signs of life as he moved forward.
This is breath-taking music, gorgeously melodic and beautifully performed. ‘Sapling’ is the opening track from ‘Signs of Life’, the entry into a collection of remarkable songs about regeneration, rebirth and starting anew. The album grows from and out of this song. As Vance puts it: “‘Signs of Life’ is about re-emergence – me in my own soft revolution, the world re-emerging in what we’re about to see as we hopefully go back to some semblance of normality. But just life in general – flowers growing through the cracks in Chernobyl. Life finds a way, doesn’t it?” It’s life-affirming and full of hope, something we all need right now. If you haven’t already, pause what you’re doing and take a listen to one of 2021’s best albums.
Yes, my wife and I went down to London for the two album launch shows (in Hackney and this one). They were entirely different shows, the Hackney show was a full-band-experience…both wonderful occasions. Arriving home the following day we also watched the rerun of the webstream of the St Pancras church show which spawned this video. It would be a great gift for the whole show to be released in this quality. Roll on the 30th at the Hammersmith Odeon (as I’ll always know it!)
Another tour delayed. Ah well…September isn’t so far away, is it?