What to say about a songwriter’s songwriter?
In my experience, Fay’s reputation always seems to proceed him. I reckon I first heard of Bill Fay via Jeff Tweedy’s cover of Be Not So Fearful, but it wasn’t until years later that I actually sought out Fay’s work for myself. The 7” series that is release alongside these latest reissues seems to continue this legacy, with Fay’s tracks covered by contemporary strummers like Steve Gunn, Jelia Jacklin, Kevin Morby, and Mary Lattimore.
But how do you sum up Fay amid this contemporary re-evaluation of his work? This new reissue collects a swathe of his demos from the 70s, but don’t expect a hifi listening experience (liner notes suggest one cassette was found behind a cabinet after years of thinking it was long lost). While grainy, these recordings capture Fay at his piano with band backing that foregrounds his writing that takes Dylan and Cohen-esque tropes as a departure point. Fay takes both the folkish tropes of protest and psychedelic song to address issues of work, love, and everything in between, without recourse to cliche or tired folky-isms. Still some light to be gleamed outta these tracks!
-Mitch (Repressed Records)