BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Bill Fay may not have gotten his due in the ‘70s, when the Englishman released the records Bill Fay and Time of the Last Persecution, but music fans have slowly been coming round to his singular talents. Who is the Sender?, the follow-up to his 2012 comeback LP Life is People, is a fine display of those talents.
To call the record a set of orchestral piano ballads with an early 70s Britfolk vibe gives it a framework, but is only half the story. Equally as important as the form is the feel, as Fay voices spiritual and social concerns driven by his self-described “alternative gospel” outlook. “Underneath the Sun” and “The Geese Are Flying Westward” track Fay’s distinctive direction with brooding beauty. “The Freedom to Read” sounds like a poem from the early 20th century set to timeless music. “Order of the Day” breaks the anthem barrier, all while keeping within the more sedate boundaries Fay sets for himself. “Bring It On Lord” and “A Frail and Broken One” come right out and says what lingers under the surface of nearly all Fay’s sentiments.
Perhaps the record’s quintessential track, “How Little” builds from brood to boil, Fay keeping his voice steady as the dynamics threaten to burst. The song is a classic case of keeping one’s emotions under lock and key, but not noticed them leaking out from under the door. Who is the Sender? is a beautiful piece of work from a veteran talent that world has finally woken up to experience.
DOWNLOAD: “How Little,” “Order of the Day,” “A Frail and Broken One”