Release Date: Jul 17, 2012
Record label: Topic Records
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock
Yorkshire-born Hield brings a robust approach to English folk song, with a voice that can nonetheless soar when necessary. Where 2010's Looking Glass left her vocal powers largely unadorned, this second album has rich arrangements from a stellar crew that includes accordionist Andy Cutting, concertina player Rob Harbron and fiddler Jon Boden (Hield's partner). On a diverse selection from the wellspring of tradition, they move easily from the muscular The Lover's Ghost to the dreamy delicacy of Sir Orfeo, a medieval take on the Orpheus myth, and a forlorn The Cuckoo.
Fay Hield has all the makings of a folk scene celebrity. She has a fine voice, she's a distinguished folk academic, lecturing in ethnomusicology at Sheffield University, and she's the partner of Bellowhead star John Boden. Little surprise, then, that she's backed by one of the finest bands in the country, including not just Boden on fiddle, guitar, banjo, bass and mandolin, but also his Bellowhead colleague Sam Sweeney on fiddle, viola and cello, Andy Cutting on accordion and even Martin Simpson on banjo and guitar.
Hield draws out new wit, tenderness and melancholia from these traditional songs. Jeanette Leech 2012 Rare is the folk album that is comfortable referencing the Neighbours theme tune alongside obscure Victorian parlour music. But, then, Fay Hield is a rare folk singer. Embracing both the intellectualism of the dusty library and the spilt-beer abandon of folk clubs, Hield interprets 11 traditional songs on Orfeo with nuance and verve.