The Full English is a groundbreaking project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society that draws together for the first time the early 20th century folksong collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams. The result is the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.
To mark the launch of the project, folksong scholar and acclaimed singer Fay Hield has assembled The Full English band, pulling together half a dozen of the top talents on the English folk music circuit for an evening of songs drawn from these unique collections. Together the band have recorded a tremendous album of material drawn from these historic collections. Rapidly becoming identified as a folk supergroup the Full English includes singer and fiddle player Seth Lakeman, who has successfully steered English folk into the musical mainstream with his high-energy performances and a series of best-selling albums, and one of the world’s finest and most admired guitarists, Martin Simpson. Nancy Kerr is another fiddler/singer with a deep commitment to the English traditional repertoire, celebrated for her boundary-smashing partnerships with Eliza Carthy and James Fagan. Sam Sweeney (fiddle) and Rob Harbron (concertina) are formidable instrumentalists who feature in Fay’s backing band The Hurricane Party as well as in Jon Boden’s Remnant Kings, and are two of the most in-demand session musicians on the scene. Nailing all this multi-instrumentality down is Ben Nicholls, double bassist of choice for artists as diverse as the Seth Lakeman Band, Martin Carthy and Jimmy Somerville.
Seth LAKEMAN Martin SIMPSON Fay HIELD Nancy KERR Sam SWEENEY Rob HARBRON Ben NICHOLLS
All photographs by Elly Lucas
“It is a brilliant sucess.”
Paddy Bullard, Times Literary Supplement
1 Awake Awake
2 Stand By Your Guns
3 William And Nancy
4 Creeping Jane
5 Arthur O’Bradley
6 Portrait Of My Wife
7 Fol The Day-o
8 Brigg Fair
9 Rounding The Horn
10 The Servant Man
11 Man In The Moon
12 Linden Lea
Orfeo, Fay Hield’s splendid second album for Topic Records will be released on Monday 28th May. The album is already receiving some remarkable reviews and sees Fay working with the virtuoso all-star HURRICANE PARTY – Jon Boden(fiddle, guitar, percussion, double bass, mandolin, additional banjo and vocals), Andy Cutting (button accordions, melodeon), Rob Harbron (English Concertina, fiddle, vocals), Sam Sweeney (fiddle, viola, cello, nyckelharpa, vocals) and special guest Martin Simpson (banjo, guitar). Orfeo is surely destined to be recognised as one of the finest albums of the year. The powerful arrangements of traditional songs are fabulously focused around her remarkable voice.
Orfeo is an album of songs to which Fay feels an especially strong connection. Her choice of material and the delivery of it, reflect a rare sensitivity and appreciation of the tradition whilst remaining naturalistic and highly distinctive.
“Orfeo with bold and genuinely compelling arrangements, ensuring an attraction that could reach out well beyond the loyal folk audience. This hearty, full-bodied release embodies a substance and breadth that is likely to garner much acclaim.” Folk Radio UK
“Hield’s command of her material is unerring and the outcome compelling.” The Observer
“Her previous album Looking Glass was good, but Orfeo knocks it into a cocked hat… its timelessness and full stature may not become apparent until the time comes to analyse this ‘golden period’ of British folk music.” fRoots
1. The Lover’s Ghost
2. Wicked Serpent
3. The Parson’s Gate
4. The Cuckoo
5. Pretty Nancy
6. Sir Orfeo
7. The Old ‘Arris Mill
8. The Weaver’s Daughter
9. Tarry Trousers
11. Naughty Baby
“A singer of determined substance who not only goes out of her way to unearth unfamiliar material, but invests it with thoughtful, challenging and quietly offbeat arrangements.” Colin Irwin, fRoots
Fay Hield has been singing traditional songs from an alarmingly early age. She was active in the lively music scene centred around the Famous Bacca Pipes Folk Club in Keighley, was instrumental in launching the Haworth Arts Festival and was part of a highly-regarded duo with Damien Barber. In 2001 she helped form The Witches Of Elswick – a female acapella quartet.
After a year or two off the folk radar, Fay returned to public view via occasional performances with partner Jon Boden. By this time she and Jon had fetched up on the moorland fringes of Sheffield. In 2009 a new concert line-up with Rob Harbron (English Acoustic Collective) and Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead) came into being, built around a striking repertoire of often obscure material drawn from rarely-thumbed collections. The Trio’s first outing, at the Oxford Festival in 2009, was flagged up approvingly by Acoustic Magazine as their Gig Of The Month, commenting: “….. Contained within a festival bursting at the seams with talent, this performance really stood out as one of the highlights.”
Some months ago Topic’s Tony Engle heard Fay’s new recordings. Her classic voice and the unusual selection of material quickly resulted in Topic’s first signing in a number of years.
Fay Hield’s debut solo CD Looking Glass is a spicy stew of songs and ballads, catches and caprices. The title track is a Peter Bellamy setting of a Rudyard Kipling poem. Instrumentation includes fiddles, concertina, nyckelharpa and guitar. The sound is at once crafty and nimble, airy and graceful, full of zest and nuance, sensitive to the tradition yet utterly distinctive. Fay leads with a voice whose rough edges are still thrillingly intact, and which goes straight to the living heart of the songs.
- “Looking Glass is one of the best albums Topic has released for many years. I absolutely love it.” Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2
- “An album of real depth and substance.” Colin Irwin, fRoots
- “Hield is a rare talent.” ★★★★ Uncut
- “There’s a real depth and richness to her singing.” ★★★★ Mojo
- “Her strong voice, with soft, comforting northern tones delivered songs from the length and breadth of the country… Contained within a festival bursting at the seams with talent, this performance really stood out as one of the highlights.” Acoustic Magazine