If you wanted to convince someone of how good traditional folk music can be then Orfeo by Fay Hield & the Hurricane Party should do the trick.
|Fay Hield and Orfeo|
The depth of knowledge and enthusiasm Fay brings to her renderings is second to none. She also brings with her that traditional sound which has been passed down the centuries by travelling musicians up and down the breadth and length of this musical land .
Fay has a real talent for digging out interesting and fascinating songs with lyrics that carry the weight of years of storytelling which go back into the mists of time and hold with them many traditions of the past. They are not simply songs they are windows into the human condition and even showing the darker side of our nature with the track The Lover's Ghost.
Orfeo, the latest offering from the Yorkshire academic, brings together the wonderful backing sound of the Hurricane Party which consists of expert accordion player Andy Cutting, Rob Harbron, Sam Sweeney and Jon Boden, both of Bellowhead, plus a special appearance from Martin Simpson. Fay’s unadorned voice both connect and relate the stories of life and death, bringing the past and the present together weaving wondrous images with her tones such as in the title track Sir Orfeo which is a medieval tale drawn from the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.
There are real treats on this album one being the a cappella sea shanty Pretty Nancy where Fay’s clear voice and regional accent come through wonderfully, backed by the solid harmonies of THP. The Old Arris Mill is reminiscent of the protest songs which were inspired by dreadful conditions in the workhouses and cotton mills. Fay wonderfully captures the spirit of those times where the owners grew fat on the backs of workers and the unions were just a twinkle in the eyes of activists.
Many of the legends, myths and traditions are revisited here, none more so than in The Cuckoo, a bird steeped in a myriad of folklore tales. Here Fay’s voice takes on an almost ethereal and spiritual quality as if it was the first time it was sung.
With Parson's Gate Fay shows a lighter and more playful side and it is one of those tracks that will stick in the mind and before long you will find you are humming it without even knowing. There is not one bad track on this superb album and Fay’s attention to detail comes through on every song.
Orfeo is out now on the Topic label.
For more information visit www.fayhield.com.