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Still Some Light

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Album Review

In his extensive liner notes to this double-disc, Bill Fay claims that only David Tibet would have released Still Some Light, a collection of demos from 1970 and 1971 gathered from various sources, and a disc of new songs. So it is Tibet we must thank as well. Fay is the British singer/songwriter whose first two albums — Bill Fay and Time of the Last Persecution — were issued by Decca in the early '70s to favorable reviews and poor sales. They disappeared until the 21st century, where they have been rightfully regarded as lost classics. The first disc in this collection features demos that Fay and his bandmates had lying about for decades. The fact that these relationships continued after the music stopped says a lot about all of the respect and trust for one another these men have. Fay plays piano, organ, acoustic guitar, and sings, while Alan Rushton is on drums, Daryl Runswick on bass, and Ray Russell on electric guitar. Fay's love of creation, his belief in a higher authority, and the consequences of human folly in caring for it, are at the heart of his argument on the song demos on disc one. The music is mostly melancholy and dark, even foreboding, but Fay is not a preacher, nor is he a prophet: there isn't a hint of self-righteousness in his approach, but a poetic sadness imbued with compassion. Whether it's the original demo for "Time of the Last Persecution" (his unique reading of the Book of Revelation), "Pictures of Adolph Again," "Love Is the Tune," or "Release Is in the Eye," they all reflect these concerns. The simple, even rudimentary recordings on disc two reveal that despite holding working class jobs for decades after his music career, Fay continued to write fine songs simply for himself. Their tone is lighter, offering glimmers of hope in darkened corners. Twenty-four of the 26 remarkable tracks are self-penned. The exceptions are set-opener "My Eyes Open," featuring Fay plaintively (and beautifully) singing over cellist/composer Michael Cashmore's instrumental, and the closer "I Wonder," written by brother John Fay (whose artwork adorns this gorgeous package). Three tracks here are the original versions of songs that appeared on Fay's widely acclaimed 2012 album Life Is People: "There Is a Valley," "Be at Peace with Yourself," and "City of Dreams." They reflect the humility and dignity in his approach. Songs such as "Jericho Road," the title cut, "Solace Flies In," "Your Life Inside," "Fill This World with Peace," and "I Will Remain Here" are almost prayers, yet are imbued with such a gentle but pronounced musicality that they touch the profound. For anyone at all interested in Fay, Still Some Light is an essential collection that underscores a well-deserved reputation only recently cemented. All of the artists' proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Biography

Born: North London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '00s, '10s

Obscure British singer/songwriter Bill Fay made a couple of albums in the early '70s that matched Dylanesque songwriting with unusual arrangements. Fay had actually done his first single, "Some Good Advice"/"Screams in the Ears," for Deram back in 1967, produced by early Donovan co-manager Peter Eden. The single introduced his characteristic downbeat melodies and...
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Still Some Light, Bill Fay
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