An intensely absorbing debut album...

Chloe Foy’s debut album ‘Where Shall We Begin’ comes at the end of a formative ten years for the Gloucestershire-via-Manchester songwriter, before which she lost her father to depression. It is the result of meditation and introspection, featuring echoing, nostalgic folk arrangements, and haunting lyrics reminiscent of Gillian Welch, Edith Piaf and Tyler Ramsay.

Although certainly a folk record, the airy arrangements here resemble progressive music at times. The opener (and title track) has Chloe merge perfectly with the instrumental, singing with a muted passion of her regrets. Soft ambience defines the album’s production, with Chloe’s voice floating above it as if on a pool of water.

Single ‘Work of Art’ is a highlight, a more impassioned Chloe asking herself ‘Why don’t you let go?’ and ‘Why don’t we let go?’ over a twilight of folk-rock. ‘Evangeline’ is a tale of heartbreak, featuring some of Chloe’s rawest lyrics and a gradually expanding repertoire of instruments. Chloe herself co-produced the record with help from collaborator Harry Fausing Smith, who was responsible for the string arrangements which evoke reflection across ‘Where Shall We Begin’.

Throughout the record, Chloe Foy’s ability as a storyteller is in the foreground, switching between songs of grief, heartache, and reflection with ease, lyrically direct and metaphorical as she sees fit. ‘Bones’ is on the sombre side, with Chloe’s voice becoming more ethereal as she sings of her melancholia.

Closing out the album is the poignantly dramatic ‘Square Face’, with a borderline-orchestral opening as Chloe waxes metaphorically, the best arrangement on ‘Where Shall We Begin’. Mid-way through the track, Chloe is left alone, the clarity of her voice taking centre-stage when isolated, the sheer breadth of emotion expressed similar to Fiona Apple on her recent record.

Across her debut, Chloe Foy makes clear the importance of authenticity when creating folk music: every song is the result of her experience, and it’s clear that the record could not have been created in any other circumstance, by anyone else. The warmth that permeates every second of its playtime, felt most strongly in ‘Work Of Art’, comes primarily from Chloe’s song writing, though the pastoral production is also key to this.

On the making of ‘Where Shall We Begin’, Chloe said, “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.” It’s rare that an album is ten years in the making, and honing that much emotion and experience into roughly 41 minutes is a monumental task. Chloe Foy accomplished it.

8/10

Words: Jack Oxford

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