Bill Fay rose from his career slumber with the triumphant Life Is People, a record of intimate songs about love, loss and the resolve of faith, played mostly on piano with supplementary arrangements that recalled the records he'd made years before. Thankfully it wasn't a victory lap or a one-off redemption story: Who Is The Sender? is its follow-up, and continues to wrestle with his deeply humanist but equally spiritual ideals.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 14 April 2015
Beautiful Bill is back, and I’m utterly relieved. ‘Life Is People’ was a triumphant comeback record that made the many years without Fay’s music worth suffering through, and celebrated a songwriter who’d been subjected to the musician’s worst nightmare: not being listened to. ‘Life Is People’ may have been forty years too late, but it proved that people wanted to gather around Fay’s plaintive, gorgeous and supremely kind songs. I’m glad it wasn’t lip service; I’m glad we get ‘Who Is The Sender?’ as well.
Fay has come back with a strong reverence for his God and a political conscience mined straight from the ‘70s; broad, perhaps naively universal songs feature, detailing spiritual immortality and unending war. These large stories are given overwhelmingly ornate arrangements: his noble treatise on “War Machine” is met with a choir of singers, and solemn, devotional strings meet the soft piano balladry of “Bring It On Lord”. Earth-scorched synth echoes through the decayed stories of “Underneath the Sun”, which focuses itself around Fay’s modestly pressed notes.
If you want proof of Fay as one of the finest British songwriters, as he’s been declared a few times in this revisionist period, then look to “Who Is The Sender?”, a song that melts sadness into kindness and tugs at the heart. Amongst the bluster of ascendent strings and marching brushed drums, Fay just wants to say thank you: “I want to say thank you / to the unknown sender”. It's that feeling of appreciation -- that knowledge of being blessed -- that makes Fay's music soar.
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