If there’s one constant about Aussie hitmaker Vance Joy since his debut release and 2014 breakthrough single “Riptide”, it’s this: he keeps the chords, melody, and plucking simple. It’s probably why he’s reached where he is musically in the first place.
That carefree attitude earned Riptide its status as a beginner guitar tune. The song was popular when ukulele orchestras were just becoming a thing in schools. It was easy to play and strum along to, making Joy one of the most visible young guitarists and inspiration for beginners. Vance is still happy with the impact it had.
He shares, “When I’m learning a new song, I look up the chords and tabs on websites dedicated to sharing that information. It’s an honour to see ‘Riptide’ is often one of the most popular songs on those websites, and I’m happy that it seems a popular choice for people learning to play either the guitar or the ukulele. I also enjoy seeing people playing his song in public, especially when it seems to be one of the first songs they’ve learned how to play.”
Vance Joy continues this musical trend in third album release
In his third album, “In Our Own Sweet Time,” Vance’s sound is still guitar-driven. At this point, his fingerstyle patterns are more involved than we usually hear from pop stars, but this time they’re augmented by lush arrangements, including woodwind, horns, and piano for an epic indie-pop sound.
Amidst all that, the guitar still is the album’s focal point. Vance happily discusses how he developed his style, “ I focused on learning classic songs and riffs at the beginning of my journey. I was also inspired by fingerpicking songs like Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and Isaac Albéniz’s ‘Asturias.’ I could learn parts of ‘Classical Gas’ but could never master it. So, in the end, I just stuck to what I knew.”
He continues, “I usually move between a few different fingerpicking rhythms when I’m playing the guitar. I find it easy to sing along when using one of those rhythms.”
This musical progression is most evident in his latest single off the album entitled “Looking at Me Like That.” Vance’s subtle fingerpicking melody is the canvas where his intimate lyrics paint a deep, romantic bond between partners. Although for the music video, it seems the song can be reimagined as a tight-knit connection between a human…and their pet dog!
Directed by Brad Cauchy and starring Meg Cunningham and Willow the Cattle Dog, “Looking at Me Like That”’s music video is an inspired day-in-the-life between human and pet, from their waking moments, car ride, boat ride, and mountain trek until they both return home.
The Australian hitmaker notes, “James [Earp, his co-writer] and I came up with the same chord progression by chance. I had a line on my phone that said, ‘Don’t stop looking at me like that.’ I was thinking about the relationship between two people and how I hope the way they look at each other lasts. This song is slightly different from my other songs, but I think it works.”
Jay B McCauley is a renowned award-winning music journalist, broadcaster and record producer. He has written for some of the biggest platforms in the game and runs his own label Vagrant Soundz.