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

1  The Huntsman
2  Mad Family
3  Two Brothers
4  The Looking Glass
5  Little Yellow Roses
6  The Banks of the Nile
7  Kemp Owen
8  Sheepcrook and Black Dog
9  Grey Goose and Gander
10  The Shepherd’s Daughter
11  King Henry

Fay Hield vocals
Keith Angel percussion
Jess Arrowsmith vocals
Jon Boden concertina, fiddle, guitar and percussion
Hannah James clogs
Sam Sweeney fiddle, nyckelharpa and viola