Bill Fay – Life is People

August 22nd, 2012
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Belated Classic

Bill Fay hasn’t released a new studio album in 40 years. That’s right, forty! So it should hardly come as a shock that his new LP Life is People sounds oh-so-vintage in a good way.

Fay’s first two records–his self-titled debut and Time of the Last Persecution–were released in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Sales were poor, and although a third album was cut in the late 70’s, Tomorrow Tomorrow & Tomorrow didn’t make its’ way out of the vault until 2005. Like any rare and exceptional artifact, Bill’s music has become a target of collectors’ obsessions, and over the years has accumulated a surprising fanbase– most notably (and noticeably) Wilco and John Howard. Wilco’s interest in Fay has even become mutual–he’s joined the band for performances on multiple occasions, and put a piano-centric cover of “Jesus, Etc.,” on this new record.

Fay’s songcraft is luscious and powerful; his voice, a perfect median point between Dylan and Cohen. The album’s unadorned conclusion “No Man Can Tell,” is so beautiful and chilling. It’s on the level of Peter Gabriel’s “Father, Son” or a Jacques Brel performance of “Ne Me Quitte Pas.” The album feels a song or two long, but given the wait since the last release, a little extra material isn’t hurting anyone.

Life is People is a throwback, but it feels like it belongs on the shortlist of classics. So perhaps we must simply overlook its tardiness and smuggle it in where it belongs.

Search for Bill Fay albums on Amazon

By Maggie Levin Posted in Reviews

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Bill Fay – Life is People