Justin Fancy
Justin Fancy - Sure Beats a Good Time
Region: Newfoundland and Labrador
Genre: Country, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

After paying his dues performing live, night after night, on St. John’s vibrantly popular George Street pub scene, country recording artist Justin Fancy, from nearby Conception Bay South, Newfoundland, is preparing to take his rightful place on the national stage with the release of his debut album, Sure Beats A Good Time.

With these seven brand new songs, Fancy is determined to prove he’s no one-trick pony. He masterfully combines classic country songwriting influenced by artists at the forefront of the country scene from the 1970s to early 1990s with his own take on today’s country sound.

From Merle Haggard and George Jones to Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, and Travis Tritt, he gravitated towards iconic artists who had a talent for telling great stories through their lyrics. The notion of someone relating to or seeing themselves in his songs was too powerful to steer him in any other direction.

“People can tell whether or not you’re genuine. When I approach writing my songs, I try to put myself in these situations to ensure people can relate to what I’m singing about, because ultimately it’s what I look for in a good song,” he confesses.

“But it’s more the sum of my convictions than anything else. If I feel strongly about a song that’s going to play a part in helping tell my story, that’s what I want to put forward. And if someone can relate to that story, I’ve done my job. I don’t believe sharing experiences is anything that comes easily to any of us, but I feel like this is what I’ve been put here to do.”

In early 2020 Fancy released back to back, stand-alone radio singles and videos, as an introduction to the country music scene. Long Time Comin’ and Think About You were received favourably, cracking over 137,000 streams on Spotify and being and added at numerous radio stations across Canada. The video for Think About You, which starred long-time friend and former Big Brother Canada contestant (2019/Season 7) Samantha Picco as Fancy’s love interest, received a huge accolade by being featured on CMT.com (who have rarely featured Canadian artists in the past).

Fancy was originally due to record Sure Beats A Good Time at Sevenview Studios in Springdale, with fellow Newfoundlander Clint Curtis, a veteran musician in his own right, who is quickly developing a reputation for delivering world-class, Nash­ville-quality production values right on The Rock. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit and large swaths of the population went into self-isolation, they had to come up with a Plan B.

Never one to concede defeat, Fancy ended up cutting his tracks for the album remotely, while 700 kilometers away, Curtis put the finishing touches on each of the record’s seven songs. This is a story of adaption and perseverance at its best.

The first single from Sure Beats A Good Time is the album’s title track. Fancy’s rich voice and understated guitar licks fill the speakers as he sings of navigating the change in life priorities that seemingly go hand-in-hand with the transition from carefree youth to adult.

“The story behind that song is something that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. We all live it up when we’re young, but there comes a time for a lot of people when you meet that special person, and the idea of spending time with them becomes more appealing than the wild night out. I used to be one of those people that lived for those weekend nights, but as we get older our priorities change and rightly so,” Fancy says.

But just as priorities change as we get older, so do life’s circumstances. Two of the songs on Sure Beats A Good Time - “Makes Me Wanna” and “Stop Lovin’ You” - examine the time-honoured topic of break-ups. While it may be a cliché in one sense – the country guy singing about having his heart broken - the bigger picture, according to the singer-songwriter, is that the theme is universally understood.

“I always worry I’m putting too much on the table with my songs,” Fancy states. “I’m not afraid to wear my heart on my sleeve. Writing these songs has also been a coping mechanism for me.”

“I wrote ‘Makes Me Wanna’ one morning in March when I was thinking back on a past relationship and the feeling of struggling to understand why you can’t get over someone. It was an emotional and frustrating time in my life. The song is all about committing yourself to the process of getting over someone but also realizing that we’re in charge of our own destinies. We just have to trust in the process.”

Fancy says that theme carries over to “Stop Lovin’ You,” where he found himself trying to push away both the feelings of emptiness as well as the feelings he once had for his former partner. But as the saying goes, some things are easier said than done, especially when it comes to break-ups.

This song talks about the process of moving on when you come to realize you’re on a fruitless mission. The book had been written and, whether I wanted to admit it or not, there was no turning back. Those kinds of things get easier as the days go by, but I also think it’s a process people try to rush through rather than let happen naturally. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. But going against that current is mentally tough.”

What is arguably most endearing about Fancy and Sure Beats A Good Time is his enviable ability to craft songs that will ultimately resonate on multiple levels. For every person drawn to his songs’ subject matter, others will be unable to resist the undeniably anthemic choruses found in this collection of radio-ready songs.

When he sings of his country music heroes “Waylon, Willie, Merle and John” on “Lovin’ Man,” the listener is given an intimate glimpse of where Fancy’s musical heart resides. While that sentiment echoes throughout the album, Sure Beats A Good Time serves as a bridge between the country music of past and present.

No Bravado. Zero Hype. Humble to a fault. Justin Fancy is a refreshing breed of artist that isn’t afraid of taking chances to get where he wants to be. Sure Beats A Good Time will serve him well as his calling card to the world.