Fay Hield – Wrackline

Album Review | Topic | Review by Allan Wilkinson

A fine mixture of traditional and original songs from the darker corners of the woods, Fay Hield’s fifth album sees the Sheffield-based singer, songwriter, musician and scholar add her own words to an already wealthy canon of stories in just over 45 minutes of otherworldly escapism.  There are witches, fairies and ghosts a-plenty within these songs, some chilling, some ethereal, some tender and each loaded with imagination.  Helping to deliver these stories is a first rate collective of musicians, namely her long time collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Rob Harbron, Sam Sweeney on fiddle,  viola and nyckelharpa, Ben Nichols on double bass and Ewan Macpherson on jaw harp, each of whom also lend their respective voices here.

Fay’s own songs are both melodic and poetic, in that they read like poems on paper, notably “Call the Storm” and the emotionally haunting “Wing Flash”.  As a response to the Cruel Mother, Fay’s “Jenny Wren” is as close to a traditional song as a contemporary writer is likely to get, whilst the sprawling epic in this collection, Fay’s adaptation of the traditional “Sir Launfal”, is a fine example of both storytelling and editing skills.  Hearing “Sweet William’s Ghost” is like hearing the voice of the late Maggie Boyle once again, which is both a moving and a celebratory experience all at the same time.

Choice Track: Hare Spell (NSV 508)