Have you ever listened to an album that happens to be the soundtrack to a particular period of your life, down to the last lyric? The type that reminds you of the first kiss, the final goodbye, or the terrible, terrible decision you made that time you had far too many vodka cokes? Singer-songwriter James Keough, better known as Vance Joy, has managed to achieve this connection with listeners on his debut album Dream Your Life Away.
Keough’s story-telling aptitude is a great addition to the musical foundations of the album, and it can largely be accredited to the folk roots of the music. Each track subsequently makes you feel like you’re having a one-on-one with the artist, as if you can relate to everything he’s saying. Released September 5, Dream Your Life Away features the hit single “Riptide”, which is in the Top 40 in the UK. There are heavy indie-rock/folk sounds featured, which are heard especially in the instrumentation of the ukulele and piano, as well as the stylistic approach of the percussionist. Fans of artists such as Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers will revel in the album’s balance of rock-ballad love songs, such as “From Afar”, and infectious, catchy tracks, like “Mess Is Mine”.
Something to note is that a few of the songs seem a bit repetitive. If you listen to the entire album in one sitting, you might feel like you’ve already heard it because the tracks sound somewhat alike. This could be a result of Vance Joy’s distinctive voice, which is arguably quite enjoyable; his tone and the lyrics are enough to get over this minor flaw.
Couple the legitimate talent of Keough’s musicians along with his exceptional singing and quirky, whimsical lyrics, such as those featured in “Riptide” (“I was scared of dentists and the dark/I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations”), and you’re in for an enjoyable album discovery. If Dream Your Life Away is any indication, the Australian native has plenty of untapped talent to be heard.
Vance Joy plays Glasgow’s Oran Mor Wednesday September 24.