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Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow charts Bill Fay's humane and compassionate songs

"Tomorrow Tomorrow And Tomorrow"

Release date: 23 February 2024
Bill Fay Group Tomorrow Tomorrow Tomorrow cover
22 February 2024, 09:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

If ever a glossary of music biz archetypes was compiled, Bill Fay’s story would provide a neat definition of a cult hero.

The London-based songwriter’s first two albums didn’t find much of an audience. Unfairly but perhaps understandably so: while 1970’s self-titled debut is somewhat in tune with the singer-songwriter norms of the era, the more pronouncedly apocalyptic mood of 1971’s Time of the Last Persecution packs plenty of potential to harsh anyone’s mellow post-hippie era vibes. Dropped by his label, Fay reportedly quit music, reemerging in the early 2010s with a string of superb ‘comeback’ albums on Dead Oceans (2020’s minimalist and hushed Countless Branches especially is a masterpiece of deceptively direct songcraft). Unusually, these more recent records are arguably superior to the 70s albums, which had acquired the status of lost classics and praise from such notables as Jeff Tweedy (Wilco have covered Fay’s “Be Not So Fearful”) and Kevin Morby during Fay’s silence.

Following recent reissues of two compilations of demos and home recordings (Still Some Light Pt. 1 and Pt. 2), this updated and expanded reissue of Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow sheds further light on how Fay managed to hone and distil his more florid early songwriting style until the only the truest essence of expression and sentiment remained during his break from music. Although four decades separate Time of the Last Persecution and Fay's first ‘comeback’ album, 2012’s superbly resonant Life Is People, Fay never stopped writing and recording new material: he just continued to hone his craft without much expectation of the material ever being heard more widely.

Recorded between 1978 and 1980, Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow charts the unfinished efforts to produce a third Bill Fay album, a project initiated by Bill Stratton and Gary Smith, two musicians (and fans), seeking out Fay – by then mostly forgotten and long without a label – in hope of new music.

It's not the most obvious starting place for a Fay novice: the arrangements don’t always gel and the recording quality varies widely. However, the songs are without fail potent and convincingly delivered. There are tunes here that echo the more sprawling templates of Time of the Last Persecution (notably “After The Revolution”, newly covered by Marlon Williams as part of an ongoing series of Fay covers by contemporary artists) but also, intriguingly, songs that have all the inviting warmth, time-worn wisdom and sense of wide-eyed wonder balancing with ire against intolerance and injustice that makes Fay's more recent albums so appealing. Minimalist and virtually glowing with hushed solemn beauty, "Hypocrite", "We Are Raised" and "A Coast No Man Can Tell" (revised for Life Is People) all sound like standards, or secular hymns built to last for centuries. Fay's gentle and earnestly uncynical vision must have been seriously out of time in the era of punk and new wave, but this is ultimately ageless stuff that’s immune to passing fads and fashions: if ever there was a perfect time for Fay’s humane and compassionate songs, it’s right now.

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