Style: A songwriter's songwriter aged to perfection; compare to Leonard Cohen, Tim Buckley, Jeff Tweedy
Top tracks: "There Is a Valley," "Thank You Lord," "This World"
English songwriter Bill Fay hadn't made a studio album in 40 years, but he never stopped writing. It shows. Spurred on by producer Joshua Henry, who grew up listening to Fay's two albums from the early '70s, Fay assembled a talented cast of English musicians, former bandmates, singers from the London Community Gospel Choir, and a string quartet to flesh out songs old and new. Now in his late sixties, Fay's voice is weathered but not brittle, and his backing band is so artfully arranged that the accompaniment never overwhelms his carefully chosen, God-focused words. Album opener "There is a Valley" speaks of a hill near Jerusalem where wildflowers "could only silently look upon" the crucifixion. He does a beautiful, solo-piano version of Wilco's "Jesus, etc.," and Jeff Tweedy (a longtime Fay apostle) guests on "This World," yearning with Fay for "something to set us free from this world."1