In Our Own Sweet Time

In Our Own Sweet Time

Vance Joy has never been one to shy away from baring his soul. His evocative songs have always felt innately tender, but with album three born equally from a romantic relationship and the pandemic’s standstill, his heart has never been more firmly on his sleeve. And while most of the album was written over Zoom, Vance—James Keogh—traveled all over the place by way of his tracks. “Catalonia,” which revives his classic ukulele sound, may have been written and recorded in a Sydney quarantine hotel, but it reflects on his time living in Spain. “Wavelength,” a collab with Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth, is his most experimental song to date. “Don’t Fade” was written in Malibu, while “Daylight” came out after a long period of lockdown-prompted writer’s block. He found inspiration in people like Bruce Springsteen, Tony Soprano, and his girlfriend; he pondered relationships and the passing of time. Some songs weren’t even meant to be on the album, like “Solid Ground”—it was initially just 90 seconds long and intended for a Netflix movie. It wasn't used in the end, though, so Keogh picked up the pieces and made something new. Read on for more about each track on Keogh’s wide-reaching album. “Don’t Fade” “I was just mumbling words. You don’t know exactly what you’re saying, it’s just random words, which can be a scary and vulnerable place to be. Dave [Bassett, who co-wrote the track] said, ‘Did you just mumble “I wish you could see what I see when I’m seeing you”? Because that’s kind of nice.’ It was a good starting point for the album. It felt magical, spontaneous, and surprising. It also felt new.” “Solid Ground” “I actually work well under deadlines. Deadlines are good, otherwise I’d just sit and watch Western Bulldogs highlights. It makes you write a song you maybe weren’t going to write. I’d always wanted to get the line ‘When your whole world turns upside down, I’ll be your solid ground’ into a song.” “Missing Piece” “I sat on this song for a year. I didn’t know what people would think of it. It’s definitely a confidence boost when it’s successful, but you never know what will connect with people or if they’re sick of a certain kind of sound you do. A lot of my songs may have a particular sound—‘Catalonia’ may sound a bit like ‘Saturday Sun’ or ‘Riptide,’ ‘Missing Piece’ might sound a bit like ‘Fire and the Flood’—they have a similar rhythm. You might think, ‘Is it time to totally change my sound?’ But at the same time I feel aware of not trying to totally reinvent the wheel.” “Catalonia” “This is probably the most direct song. I can be a bit resistant to writing anything too autobiographical, but I wanted it to feel real and genuine, not like a tourism ad for Barcelona. So I’m saying exactly what happened. There’s the gothic quarter where we were living, drinking vermouth and walking around these old arches, hanging out on people’s terraces and going to parties. I’m glad I have another ukulele song that can fit in the same universe as ‘Riptide’ and ‘Saturday Sun.’ ‘Riptide’ obviously casts a bit of a shadow, but there’s a spectrum between these three songs. It feels like a consistent set.” “Way That I’m Going” “If you think in terms of a mechanic, you can take a part, plug it in somewhere else, and it’ll work. I think I’m a little less romantic and mystical about songwriting. You can use parts from one song and put them in a different song. It’s a song about my girlfriend. Our musical tastes align; she has a similar response to me when I listen to songs that make me emotional. So when I play her a new song of mine and she likes it, it gives me a lot of confidence.” “Every Side of You” “My sister and I were watching heaps of The Sopranos in lockdown. Tony Soprano was saying to his therapist, ‘What happened to Gary Cooper, the strong and silent type?’ I don’t know if I was ever the strong and silent type, but I’ve definitely seen some changes in myself over the last few years and more recently. I’ve opened some doors in myself, become more open and relaxed and loving. It also touches on being apart—there’s that sweetness and tension. In music, when you’re not touring, you’re there every day for six months, and then you go away for eight weeks. That can be difficult. But it gives the song that push-and-pull energy.” “Clarity” “It’s very upbeat and poppy. Dan Wilson says that if there’s a song you might be a bit shy about because it feels poppy, or makes you feel uncomfortable because it’s saying something really directly, that’s probably the single. I got that feeling from ‘Clarity.’ When we finished the song, Joel [Little, producer] said he could imagine the feel of the production. And when he sent it back, with the full production, it just exploded. I didn’t see that coming. The original voice memo was me doing mouth trumpet. He even sampled my weak mouth trumpet in the original demo and got it replaced with the real thing.” “Wavelength” “It’s quite experimental. I did a couple of writing sessions with Dave [Longstreth] from Dirty Projectors, and the Take a Daytrip guys. I was just mumbling into microphones and they picked the best melodies. It was so different to the typical way a song of mine would originate, but it was a totally open and creative experiment. I’m interested to see how people will react to that song, because it’s quite unique and different. It’s probably the most bold and random song that’s been on one of my albums, but it’s good to take some risks.” “Boardwalk” “It’s a patchwork of different inspirations, but Bruce [Springsteen] spoke a lot about boardwalks in his book [Born to Run]. It’s the idea of creating a little bubble outside the madness and the big bad city and getting there in your own sweet time. I was going through a phase, before the pandemic, of watching Paul Newman movies on planes. I watched The Color of Money, which inspired the line ‘If you need the words, I’ll say them.’ I’m glad I stopped flying on planes, because my songs probably would’ve gone down a different path. Maybe I had to get more introspective rather than taking things from movies.” “Looking at Me Like That” “James [Earp] and I coincidentally both came into the writing session with the exact same chord progression. I had a line in my phone: ‘Don’t stop looking at me like that.’ I was thinking about the dynamic between a couple and hoping the way they look at you lasts. It’s a bit of a departure from some of the sounds I’ve used, and I think it works.” “This One” “It’s a true story. The red rain jacket and the short brown hair in the lyrics, that’s about the first time I met my girlfriend. It has some moments that are real and autobiographical, but also some embellishments, and the song can take on a life of its own. I like the line about ‘a better way of waking up I’ll never find.’” “Daylight” “It was in the early lockdown days when we were still washing our groceries. The only socializing I did was online quiz nights with friends. I got such a burst of energy from the quiz night that I went to the piano. Until then, I hadn’t been very creative or productive at all. I actually wrote a theme song for the quiz, and after that it was like, ‘Okay, I can write songs again, even if it’s just about a quiz.’ So, I wrote a melody on the piano—I thought the lines about walking in Barcelona might be a bit on the nose, but then I realized referencing stuff that happened really resonates.”

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