Last year, Australian artist Vance Joy rode the wave of new singer/songwriters making their mark on the music world with his first single Riptide, a song about a love interest that is as much a description of himself as it is her.
It’s the type of song that, with repeated listens, becomes an attraction in itself and leaves an imprint that lasts. It benefitted from being distinctive enough to stand out, thanks in part to name-dropping Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s a song people associate with whatever they were doing in 2014, a sort of nostalgia catcher that latches itself to either a best or the worst memory of last year.
But there’s more to Vance Joy than that one inescapable and still-chugging hit. His debut full-length album Dream Your Life Away contains more songs to build memories with, and while most aren’t as immediate as Riptide was, there are a few that really stick.
Ever since Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers, and others brought folk-rock back to mainstream, the spin-off has helped singer/songwriters bring their sound back to alternative music. Vance’s sound predates that of Mumford’s brand of folk, particularly sounding reminiscent of the early 2000s style of acoustic blends.
Dream Your Life Away at times recreates that acoustic sound that was in in a big way back in 2003. It doesn’t have the larger-than-life qualities that pretty much all of today’s music has and Vance doesn’t try to outdo himself, instead creating an album that feels very relatable and comforting in its minimalism.
With that comfort in mind, the album keeps a steady pace on the mellow side and doesn’t offer many moments of stop-what-you’re-doing-and-listen. But it isn’t without high points. Red Eye and Best That I Can are two tracks that easily stand out, both doing their best to put me back ten years to a time when I regularly attended acoustic performances in small bars.
It all comes back to how Dream Your Life Away fills a void I didn’t know existed, with the type of approachable indie pop that formulates it, and hidden gems in the lyrics that make their way out with each listen. It’s not a top choice in any sense but it’s a pleasant record that can provide a foundation for road trips or beach party memories or a welcome trip down memory lane for those who already experienced this type of music a decade ago.
1. Winds Of Change
2. Mess Is Mine
3. Wasted Time
5. Who Am I
6. From Afar
7. We All Die Trying To Get It Right
9. Red Eye
10. First Time
11. All I Ever Wanted
12. Best That I Can
13. My Kind Of Man