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The eternal comeback of Bill Fay

A cult figure of the English folk scene, the 77-year-old songwriter has just released a moving new album, wonderfully refined and poignant.

By Marc Zisman | Video of the Day | January 20, 2020

Often reduced to a cliché of the missing link between Bob Dylan and Nick Drake, Bill Fay has become something of a cult figure, despite a less than plentiful discographic production: a single in 1967 (Some Good People), two albums in 1970 (Bill Fay) and 1971 (Time of the Last Persecution) then radio silence for four decades followed by a comeback in 2012 (Life Is People) and Who Is The Sender? in 2015.

Venerated by younger stars (Ed Harcourt, The War On Drugs, Wilco, Okkervil River, Marc Almond and A.C. Newman worship the bearded Englishman and have all covered his songs), Fay is a master of concocting sublime miniatures. His songs are overall quite simple, rarely baroque or flamboyant, but yet they shine through their crepuscular toned-down gospel flair. The Brit carries the melodies with his faded but poignant voice and a refined piano accompaniment.

These stylistically timeless moments are once again brought to the forefront on Countless Branches, released this past Friday on the Dead Oceans label, which is composed of songs written over the past 40 years, thus bringing some unfinished songs back to see the light of day with new melodies and lyrics on Fay’s favourite themes of nature, family, the cycle of life and the unimaginable scale of all of it… Music which really moves the heart.


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