We were delighted to have booked Fay, having seen her a few times in 2010 and been blown away. Clearly Topic were as well as she is the first artist they have taken onto their label in ten years! Fay is appearing tonight with Sam Sweeney of Bellowhead and Rob Harbron of the English Acoustic Collective.
Fay Hield began her singing life in the lively music scene around the Famous Bacca Pipes Folk Club in Keighley. She was instrumental in launching the Haworth Arts Festival and the Three’s Company folk promotions organisation, and performed as half of a highly-regarded duo with Damien Barber.
During her time at Newcastle she formed the female a capella quartet The Witches Of Elswick. The Witches recorded two acclaimed CDs — Out Of Bed, (Fellside) and Hell’s Belles (Selwyn Music) — in their four years together, as well as clocking up numerous radio broadcasts (including a spot on Woman’s Hour). Their true habitat, however, was in live performance, and they blazed their progress around the folk club and festival circuits.
After a year or two off the folk radar, during which she researched her PhD thesis and discovered motherhood, Fay returned to public view via occasional performances with partner Jon Boden. By this time she and Jon had fetched up on the moorland fringes of Sheffield where they run two clubs gaining national recognition – Royal Traditions (Dungworth) and Bright Phoebus (Sheffield centre).
In 2009 a new concert line-up with Rob Harbron (English Acoustic Collective) and Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead) was established, built around a striking repertoire of often obscure material drawn from rarely-thumbed collections. This spicy stew of songs and ballads, catches and caprices is showcased on her debut solo CD – Looking Glass, released September 2010 on the prestigious Topic Records.
Instrumentation includes fiddles, concertina, nyckelharpa, and guitar. The sound is at once crafty and nimble, airy and graceful, full of zest and nuance, sensitive to the tradition yet utterly distinctive. Fay leads with a voice whose rough edges are still thrillingly intact, and which goes straight to the living heart of the songs.
Her first outing at Oxford Festival in 2009 was Acoustic Magazine’s Gig Of The Month:
Her strong voice, with soft, comforting northern tones, delivered songs from the length and breadth of the country… Contained within a festival bursting at the seems with talent, this performance really stood out as one of the highlights. Properganda online describe the London show from her recent Looking Glass tour: Sam on fiddles and Rob on concertina and fiddle are both highly accomplished, but seem to knit in the close confines of the stage to provide an almost telepathic backing over which Fay’s superb voice soars. Reviews of Looking Glass:
‘an uncompromising album of old-fashioned folk values…a real singer… in an age of honey throated whimpering’ fRoots
‘The album is brilliant, and the best thing Topic has released in years!’ Mike Harding BBC Radio 2
‘Unadorned – and quite exquisite…Hield is a rare talent’ Uncut
The Telegraph * * * *
Uncut * * * *
Mojo * * * *
The Guardian * * *
Hear Fay talk about The Full English here:
Fay appeared at the Goose with the other two members of her trio – Sam Sweeney (from Bellowhead) and Rob Harbron (from The Acoustic Collective).