Bill Fay – Life Is People     8/10

Bill Fay, mid-70’s

IT IS ALMOST always best for singer-songwriters to keep the arrangements simple and let the rhythm of the words carry the song. One of the few exceptions to this is obscure British folkie Bill Fay, who’s first studio album in 40 years fittingly tackles life and mortality.

Fay’s voice is somewhere between Dylan and Cave. He’s not in the same league as a poet or singer, but compensates with engaging arrangements that range from sparse piano to lush, early-Floydian strings and Hammond organ. There’s even a gospel choir. And it all works. It’s a one of a kind album that offers a huge reward to the patient listener.

Perhaps buoyed by a second chance to click with record buyers, Fay in 2012 sounds more assured than on his pair of venerable 70’s albums. Welcome back, Bill.

Fay was on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Sept 11. Hear it HERE at 2hrs 39mins (Alas, UK only)