New Music Discovery of the Week: Vance Joy "Clarity"

This week's ALT 104.5 New Music Discovery of the Week is Vance Joy "Clarity"

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This time, it’s really personal. The stunning third Vance Joy album, In Our Own Sweet Time, is fuelled by old friends, new memories and finding love in a not-so-hopeless place.

That place even gets its own song on the album – Catalonia – a super-romantic and geographically-precise snapshot of a man from Melbourne discovering Barcelona with his girlfriend as tour guide.

For a record created mainly through Zoom writing sessions during the pandemic, In Our Own Sweet Time is inviting and intimate.

The title taps into the feeling of creating a life – and a world - with someone.

“I’m always drawn to the idea of timelessness or that shared moment that takes you out of the chaos outside,” Vance says. “If the world is crazy, you can retreat somewhere. It’s always hard to think of the right title but I think that sums up the album perfectly.”

Album No.3 started life in 2019. Vance Joy spent that year’s summer touring European stadiums with Pink, who hand-picked him to open her Beautiful Trauma tour (he’d previously been selected by Taylor Swift as the global support on her 1989 world tour)

That victory lap with Pink was the perfect way to wind up the Nation of Two era. Released in 2018, the ARIA No.1 album spawned the hits Lay It On Me, We’re Going Home, Saturday Sun and I’m With You. It also charted in the US & Canadian Top 10, was his second #1 debut in Australia and secured Vance Joy his third ARIA Award.

The Nation of Two world tour played just under 100 shows worldwide, from Lima to Las Vegas, as well as his biggest headline shows in Australia including two sold out hometown shows at Rod Laver Arena in September 2018.

It was also the album where Vance began a creative partnership with acclaimed US songwriter Dave Bassett (Weezer, Rachel Platten) that would form the basis of In Our Own Sweet Time.

“I feel very comfortable writing with Dave, we’re on the same wavelength,” Vance says. “In a broader sense he gets where I want to go, he was happy to write over all the colours of the album, he can see what I’m seeing. It was a mountain of work, especially over Zoom, and he really was steering in a lot of ways. I felt good having him at the helm.”

Other collaborators include Joel Little (Lorde, Taylor Swift), Dan Wilson (Adele, Leon Bridges), James Earp (Lewis Capaldi), Take a Day Trip (Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X) and Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, with Vance’s drummer Edwin White continuing as co-producer.

Following Vance’s hit partnership with Marshmello and Benny Blanco on You in 2021, the first single from In Our Own Sweet Time was the Joel Little collaboration Missing Piece.

An ode to long-distance love and swapping Facetime for actual face time, Missing Piece went double platinum in Australia and becoming his sixth Top 20 hit since Riptide launched him in 2013.

As well as getting a key sync on Grey’s Anatomy and heavy US and UK airplay, Missing Piece’s 120 million streams pushed up his global streaming figures to a remarkable 3.5 billion. His 17 million monthly Spotify listeners puts him among the top 250 artists in the world on the platform.

With touring on hold due to the pandemic, the musician spent a lot of time in Barcelona – setting up a home, keeping in touch with fans on social media and Zoom – and finding a new approach to his career.

“Missing Piece and Clarity from the new album are both about realising what matter,” Vance says. “That is something that comes into my head every now and again when I think – ‘What do I want to do? All these tours or would I be better off being at home?

“Some of those decisions in my head have become more clear. Back in 2016, I would have gone anywhere on tour, I would have just lived in an Air BNB for a few months, do whatever. I was probably living a bit on the surface, About a Boy-style, so those questions are more present in my head now, and they’re starting to come out in songs on this album.

“And everything being paused was good for my creativity. I enjoyed the ability to be settled in one place. And I had someone to play my new songs to - and also inspiring me to write songs.”

Vance also enjoyed the challenge of writing his most personal – and vulnerable – set of songs, leaving behind most of the metaphors and found lyrics of previous records.

“I feel like there’s some really direct lines, I guess you evolve a little bit. There are older songs of mine like Georgia or I’m With You which are love songs that have made a big impression.

“In some of my earlier songs I was like a bird picking bits and pieces from other places for my nest. On this album I was more present, I was in the moment, working on being direct and channelling emotion rather than having a lyric from somewhere else I needed to get in.”

Since launching his career with 2013’s God Loves You When You’re Dancing EP, Vance Joy has become one of Australia’s most successful singer/songwriters with a loyal fanbase globally.

Vance is about to reactivate his tour mode, with shows in the UK, US and Canada through May and June.

His most extensive Australian tour to date runs through capital cities and regional areas between September and November, ending with a homecoming show at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.

In Our Own Sweet Time is out June 10.

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