Unlikely as it may seem, the Dead Oceans label has announced that they will be releasing a new studio album from legendary UK singer/songwriter Bill Fay on August 21. There have been a couple of somewhat patchy collections of demos and outtakes over the past decade – notably Wooden Hill's From The Bottom Of An Old Grandfather Clock issued in 2004 and the Jnana Records double disc collection Still Some Light from 2010 – but the new Bill Fay recording Life Is People will be his first proper studio set since his 1971 classic Time Of The Last Persecution for Deram (which Esoteric reissued in 2008).
Fay's first two deep and dark solo album's, his self-titled 1970 debut for Decca's Nova subsidiary and Time Of The Last Persecution are both highly prized artifacts, coveted by a small but ardent community of freak-folk fanatics and a largely uncredited touchstone for the 90s Americana movement. Both Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and the Jayhawks' Gary Louris have drawn inspiration from Fay's early masterworks while Jim O'Rourke, Ben Chasny of Six Organs Of Admittance and David Tibet of Current 93 are also Bill Fay fan club members. So the appearance of album's worth of new Bill Fay material is really good news and it'll be fantastic news if it's actually good. Here's hoping!
Have a look at the Dead Oceans press release:
Bill Fay is one of England’s best kept secrets – a genuine national treasure and we are delighted to release what we believe is his true masterpiece. Titled Life is People, the new record is Fay’s first properly crafted studio album since 1971 and it’s out on August 21.
Back at the dawn of the 1970s, Fay was a one-man song factory, with a piano that spilled liquid gold and a voice every bit the equal of Ray Davies, John Lennon, early Bowie, or Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker. He made two solo albums but quickly disappeared from the music scene, leaving his LPs and his reputation to become cult items, namedropped by the likes of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Jim O’Rourke. But he never stopped dreaming, the music kept on coming. Now, in his late sixties, he has produced a record that shows his profoundly humanist vision is as strong as it ever was.
And it’s a stunning return to form. The lush and expansive effect is completed by a cello, string quartet and a gospel choir, electric organs and pianos and a rich weave of acoustic and electric guitars. Ranging from intimate to cosmic, epic but never grandiose, Bill’s deeply committed music reminds you of important, eternal truths, and the lessons to be drawn from the natural world, when the materiality and greed threaten to engulf everything.
PRAISE FOR BILL FAY
“I can’t think of anyone whose records have meant more in my life.” - Jeff Tweedy
“Each one of the records Bill Fay has put out in four decades is different, and each is indispensable. His graceful melodies, elegantly plain lyrics, and mystical tenderness towards all life move me like little else does. He is rock music’s conscience.” - Will Sheff