It’s a great time to come to folk music. After years of being regarded as music for a pipe smoking, Fair Isle sweater sporting type, probably named Brian and then the ghastly indie-folk experiments of the likes of Mumford and the Whale in the back rooms of hipster toast restaurants in Dalston, it is back where it should be. Folk music is acceptable, cool even, rising in popularity and doing well just by ignoring all the fashion fusions and hype and embracing its own traditions. And Fay Hield is more than a small part of that resurgence.
Stalwart of the folk set via The Full English album and touring super group, Old Adam is her third solo album and contains a wealth of wonderfully traditional songs delivered in the most naturalistic and organic fashion with only the modern production values providing any chronological reference point.
Taking a raft of traditional tunes with more recent reference points such as Maddy Prior, Jon Boden (who appears on the album) or Vaughn Williams, Fay explores the genres rich heritage from the well known such as Raggle Taggle Gypsy to the less obvious but no less striking.
And what a band she brings to the album. Featuring some of the same faces as The Full English (Sam Sweeney, Martin Simpson, Rob Harbron, Ben Nicholls) The Hurricane Party are an A-list of folk musicians, a band who explore the music without dominating, who add depth without losing the traditional feel, who understand restraint as well as flourish.
Folk fans will find much to fall in love with here, especially those who favour the traditional sounds given a slight make over (a la Kate Rusby) but it also has broader appeal and that is the art of taking traditional music into the future.