Appearing first on the scene with standout single “Riptide”, James Keogh or better known by his stage name Vance Joy has finally released his first full length album. Alternative indie folk rocker, Joy is an Australian singer/songwriter that burst onto the music scene in early 2013 with his EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing. This pushed Joy into the spotlight and marked him as one of the fastest rising stars in the indie folk rock genre. On September 5th of this year he released his debut album Dream Your Life Away to rave reviews.
From top to bottom Dream Your Life Away is a remarkably solid and pleasant album that shows off Joy’s crowd pleasing style. The whimsical “Winds Of Change” starts the album off on a light-hearted note before diving right into the more powerful sounding third single titled “Mess Is Mine”. Starting with a simple guitar strum that builds up and then turns into a cascade of violins and drums. Joy’s almost mournful howl could break hearts right then and there. Track three,”Wasted Time”, begins at a faster pace but still has an almost sad sounding undertone, before introducing his hit single “Riptide” that refreshes the palate. While the next song, “Who I Am”, is nothing too special and is really one of the only few snooze pieces in the album, it makes a wonderful segue into Joy’s very first single “From Afar”. Another lyrically sad track that tugs at the heartstrings, Joy delivers the song with the skill of a seasoned veteran and the mounting chorus of “It doesn’t come as a surprise”, repeated over and over again make for a foot stomping good time.
If Joy had ended the album here it would have been just fine, but then again that would only be half of a full length album. In what appears to be a similar pattern for the indie rocker, the slow build-up before a more frantic paced finish becomes his bread and butter on the next three tracks “We All Die Trying To get It Right”, “Georgia” and “Red Eye”. All decent tracks, but with similar starts and finishes, it feels a little monotonous. This all changes with the moody faster paced “First Time” that as soon as it ends, quickly changes gears and melds into the uplifting track, “All I Ever Wanted” that makes the listener think of better times. The final two songs on Joy’s debut album are “Best That I Can” and “My Kind Of Man”. Both are slow love ballads that show off his soft vocal range. While it is not the most bombastic way to end his album, it is very fitting considering he started as a folk crooner that played small venues around Australia. Overall, Dream your Life Away is a fantastic debut album that will propel Joy to even greater heights and is one record that fans of both folk and alternative rock can enjoy worldwide.
Final Grade: B+