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Fay Hield - New album Wrackline

Wrackline is the upcoming album from folk royal & scholar Fay Hield, out 11 September. Looking at traditional stories involving the ‘otherworld’ of fairies, ghosts and the animal kingdom

Fay Hield

Her new work explores our emotional responses to the space between their reality and our own. Fay is accompanied on the new album by a stellar cast of some of the finest folk musicians working today; Rob Harbron, Sam Sweeney, Ben Nicholls and Ewan MacPherson.

Wrackline is split into 6 themes, including my interpretations of songs from within the tradition and contemporary responses. It’s my first foray into songwriting but it is firmly within the realms of folk music - drawing heavily on traditions but looking at how they are still relevant for us today. Perhaps in these strange times it’s particularly important to understand how stories can help us make sense of the world around us, both the world we can see and also those darker, less tangible things. In the run-up to the release, I will be sharing blog posts and podcasts which I hope will help you find a way into thinking about the mythical unknown. Maybe hearing how they’ve become important to me, can help you in this time of insecurity, to find some sense and beauty. Fay Hield

Fay is a core member of the English folk scene and has earned plaudits from The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer, MOJO, Uncut, fRoots, RNR over the course of her career. Fay is also an academic, lecturing in Music at the University of Sheffield, specializing in the role folk music plays in the construction of communities. With her unique combination of performance and academic talents, it was perhaps inevitable that she would take the initiative with The Full English, a folk supergroup which included legendary players Seth Lakeman, Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and double bassist Ben Nicholls. This super group toured for 2 years including many major festivals and released a self-titled album on Topic Records in 2013, winning Best Group and Best Album at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and earning Fay a nomination for Folk Singer of the Year.


the debris on the beach marking the peak of high tide. The foreshore between here and the waves is a no mans land, bridging land and sea - the space between.

Hare Spell (Trad/Hield)

Taken from Isobel Gowdie’s witch trial confessions of 1662 where she shares this spell to become a hare. Following the pattern of finding magic within, the melody comes out of the words, using the corresponding note name letters to build the frame of the tune.

Jenny Wren (Hield)

A response to the cruel mother, trying to understand the feelings of rejection, being ostracised from society and giving birth alone. The ending is ambiguous letting you decide if they become bird spirits or if she nurtures the child within nature.

Night Journey (Windling/Hield)

Working from a passage of poetry by Terri Windling, these verses followed a journey of their own. It speaks of the importance of following impulse and trusting in the unknown knowing of nature.

Swirling Eddies (Hield)

A seal woman crosses the wrackline, moving from one world into another. Reflecting on the emotions felt by the selkie at the start of her journey, a time of exhilaration and apprehension, exploring the possibilities of the unknown.

Call the Storm (Hield)

Once roots have been set there are harder decisions to make about which world to inhabit. Choices aren’t black and white, acting on individual desires can harbour undesired repercussions. There are no simple answers in life.

Cruel Mother (Trad/Hield)

Often harsh in its treatment of the mother, this version shifts to envelop her with sympathy for her situation. Forgiveness comes from her ghostly babies even though she may not feel able to forgive herself.

Old Grey Goose (Trad/Hield)

American children sing a jaunty version in the playground, but the melancholic nature of the message is lost. Death brings significant sadness for those close by, though the meaning may be lost on others.

Sir Launfal (Trad/Hield)

Exploring the values of love, loyalty and generosity over lust and vanity this epic story is distilled from the 6000 word original in Middle English. Honour should be valued more highly than wealth, beauty or reputation and it takes a fairy to bring justice to the human realm.

Pig Song (Trad/Hield)

Neatly capturing different states of judgement through the eyes of strangers, this snippet was snatched from a music hall song reported by The Era in 1935 as being banned by the BBC.

Sweet William’s Ghost (Trad)

Learnt from the mighty Maggie Boyle, both this version of the song and the distress of losing a dearly loved one.

Wing Flash (Hield)

Prying further into feelings of grief and being bound to the departed following songs like ‘Sweet William’s Ghost’ and ‘I am Stretched on your Grave’, after the loss of my mum in my teens I am still unsure how much to cling onto and what to let go.

When She Comes (Hesketh/Hield)

Returning to the opening hare theme, Sarah Hesketh wrote a sister piece to look outwards from the perspective of the hare. Being completely engulfed by another to sensuously lose all sense of self.