ALBUM REVIEW: Chloe Foy – ‘Where Shall We Begin’

Folk singer-songwriter Chloe Foy has been building up a steady momentum for several years now, and here she truly delivers with a dazzling set of versatile, emotionally reflective work on the wonderfully titled, Where Shall We Begin, her debut LP out this Friday, 11th June.

The LP marks a decade of artistic development, one that has also seen Foy coming to terms with the loss of her father to depression. Yet, similarly to Nick Cave’s’ modern-day masterpiece Skeleton Tree, there’s the feeling of this work being sensitively suffused by grief, rather than tackled overly explicitly. It’s a mature and multi-faceted level of artistry that rewards multiple listens, in appreciating the subtleties and nuances on offer. Gillian Welch, Edith Piaf and Tyler Ramsay have all been cited as key influences, and there are also shades of contemporaries such as Laura Marling and The Staves that can be heard on tracks like ‘Work of Art‘ and ‘Evangeline‘. As Foy herself, explains, “For me, this album has come out of a decade of hard graft, trying to balance my craft with making a living, whilst taking my time to get it right. All whilst dealing with the fallout of a huge bereavement in my most formative years. I was finding it hard to work out who I was within this new, alien context of losing a parent.

The album opens with the stirring title track, which starts with a simple acoustic melody before blossoming and stretching out, Foy’s vocals gradually shifting from a hushed confessional tone to a powerful climax that opens up and soars away. A similar approach is found on the sublime ‘Asylum,’ her calling-card 2018 single which has so far amassed over eight million Spotify streams. ‘Deserve‘ brings to mind the openhearted confessional tone of Sharon Van Etten, which really lands, with a downbeat country twang to the guitar line. Another lead single, ‘Shining Star,’ is a major highlight, with a moody, Elbow-esque stomp to the rhythm that lends the track real momentum. There’s a sparseness to the track, a twisting tension that sits below the surface, with Foy’s breathy vocals adding intrigue and the odd sense of menace.

Recorded at Pinhole Studios in Manchester, the musicianship on display across the LP adds to the deep sense of collaboration that has been fostered throughout the recording, with violas, harps, and some excellent percussion work all adding to the mix. Co-production comes courtesy of Foy and Harry Fausing-Smith, who also lends his talents to the stirring, emotive string arrangements throughout, such as on standout single ‘Left-Centred Weight‘. The extended outros to the likes of ‘Bones‘ and ‘And It Goes‘ in particular, are spine-tingling pieces of work, masterfully lacing and weaving Foy’s vocals – at times soothing and reassuring, at others intensely cathartic – alongside numerous elements that have built throughout the tracks. Foy’s rich and expansive vocals carry and ground each of these numbers, subtly shifting throughout to give each song its own unique identity. It’s constantly engaging, you truly never hear the same song twice throughout the duration of the album. There’s a naturally empathetic quality to her work, a level of vulnerability and honesty that endears and draws the listener in, fully investing you from start to finish.

In this age of decreasing attention spans and throwaway music designed solely to fit into playlists and appease the algorithm, it’s incredibly refreshing and heartening to hear an artist who takes so much pride in the craft of songwriting, of committing to the work through to its fully formed conclusion. Lyrically these songs are immaculate; there’s a sense of patience, thoughtfulness, and consideration of the emotional weight that each word, each note, carries with it. As Foy states, “These songs are my most inner and deepest secrets. The kind of things I only express to those closest to me, but for some reason in song, I can be open with the world.

Hailing from Gloucestershire, now based in Manchester, Foy has been a regular on the scene for many years now, picking up airplay on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2, as well as festival appearances at Green Man, Cambridge Folk Festival and SXSW. As a debut release, this marks a major step forward artistically, one which will surely find its place amongst many fans new and existing alike.

Where Shall We Begin is released this Friday 11th June, and is available for pre-order here.

Chloe Foy has a UK tour scheduled for October in support of the new album, calling at the following venues:

October 1st – Dead Wax, Birmingham
October 2nd – The Met, Bury
October 4th – The Cookie, Leicester
October 5th – Leaf, Liverpool
October 6th – The Hug and Pint, Glasgow
October 7th – The Old Cinema Launderette, Durham
October 8th – The Dorothy Pax, Sheffield
October 9th – The Louisiana, Bristol
October 13th – Gullivers, Manchester
October 14th – Paper Dress Vintage, London
October 15th – Pound Arts Centre, Corsham
October 17th – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford
October 19th – Tunbridge Wells Forum, Royal Tunbridge Wells
October 20th – The Prince Albert, Brighton
October 21st – The Boileroom, Guildford

Find Chloe Foy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Callum Mitchell-Simon
Writer and presenter based in Manchester. Contributor to several music sites, and also on air every Monday @9pm on Salford City Radio, playing a host of new and unsigned acts.

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