Fay Hallam is a hugely respected Hammond organist, singer and songwriter, with over 10 albums to her credit and a career already spanning over thirty years.
She first came to prominence in Wolverhampton Mod-popsters, Makin' Time, in the early 1980's, along with a pre-Charlatans Martin Blunt.
She and Martin, along with drummer John Brookes, then went on to form The Gift Horses, which were the embryonic beginnings of The Charlatans, which Martin and John then went on to form.
Fay’s next project, was as the vocalist and organist in the now legendary, Prime Movers. This took on a rockier more progressive sound, including the 'Earth Church' LP, which was hailed by the now-defunct Sounds Music Weekly, as LP of the year.
Since then, Fay has gone on to make over 10 albums, as Phaze, The Fay Hallam Trinity, and then as a solo artist, initially on the Blow Up label, with her 2015 album release, "Corona".
Her second solo album release, "House Of Now" was released on Well Suspect Records in October 2016, received rave reviews, and gained airplay on BBC 6 Music and BBC London.
Most recently, Fay collaborated with Swedish number 1 selling artist Magnus Carlson on his 2018 album, A Nordic Soul, co-writing two numbers with Magnus, including the single, “Now That It’s Over”, produced by ex-Paul Weller bassist, Andy Lewis.
(Andy also now plays bass for Fay in both the studio and her live band, as well as handling production duties)
This single received huge airplay on BBC Radio 2, and was played back-to-back, and championed by Craig Charles, on his BBC 6 Music Funk & Soul Show. Fay also played the organ and sang, in Magnus’s live band, for his sell-out Swedish tour, in the summer of 2018.
Always with one eye on keeping things fresh, and developing her ever-evolving sound, Fay's current live incarnation, The Fay Hallam Group, comprising of Andy Lewis on bass, her son Josh Day on piano, Kieran McAleer on drums, Jim Bishop on guitar, and the brand new brass section of Angus Law on sax and Kenneth Yarham on trumpet, have just completed their latest album, "Propeller", which is due for release on Well Suspect Records in Spring 2019, accompanied by a string of live UK shows, beginning in February, right through to April.
Fay's current live set features songs from her entire back-catalogue, from classic Makin' Time favourites, right up to the present day.
Seeing The Fay Hallam Group live, expect an energetic and fun, Hammond organ and brass-driven, rhythm and soul-based journey through Fay's critically acclaimed musical career.
THE FAY HALLAM GROUP, live at Hush! Hush! Paris, 2017
When talking about Fay Hallam, Julie Driscoll is often mentioned at the time of her glorious association with the organist Brian Auger, both for her exceptional voice and her dexterity on keyboards. To summarize this duality some consider Fay as a kind of female Georgie Fame, but all these comparisons have never prevented her talent and singularity to assert itself throughout an irreproachable discography.
Fay Hallam has been perpetuating the same soul-jazz pop-garage heritage for over twenty years both in groups like Makin 'Time, The Prime Movers, Phaze, Fay Hallam Trinity and the Fay Hallam Group today. She returns with an exceptional lineup, including Andy Lewis, ex-bassist with Paul Weller. The Mod Queen is back in town!
House Of Now (2016)
Aided by Acid Jazz supremo, Andy Lewis (Paul Weller, Pimlico, Judy Dyble, etc) in the producer’s chair, Hallam’s latest album holds on to her Modernist Hammond-groove roots but reaches new conceptual heights.
Thirteen tracks, loosely held together by themes of spirituality and unspoken religiosity, they sound like they belong to an early 1970’s counterculture-inspired musical.
Hallam and her assembled band are on killer form, with a sound that’s somewhere between Julie Driscoll’s psych-infused R&B, and the big-hearted soul of Marta Kubisova.
The Medway Modette still has it. Further sonic territory is explored via the spacey soul-searching of ‘Fragment’, the Robert Kirby style strings of ‘Heart Cries Out’ and the lover’s lament of ‘Colours’. Though for the most part, finger-snapping soul beats brush up against Latino-funk on an album that exudes both cool sophistication and an exuberance that pushes you towards the nearest dancefloor.
All that, and fuzz-guitar breaks! What more could you want?
Duncan Fletcher, Mojo Magazine
House Of Now (2016)
"Queen of the Vidal bob hair-do, Fay Hallam paid her rock dues fronting bands like The Prime Movers, Phaze, The Fay Hallam Trinity and Makin' Time (with a pre- Charlatans Martin Blunt). She has worked with Billy Childish, The Prime Movers, The Bongolian, and Magnus Carlson, and has toured the UK and Europe extensively.
2016 finds Fay having recorded possibly her strongest album to date; produced by Paul Weller collaborator Andy Lewis, House Of Now is a collection of progressive torch songs and filmic funk, ambitious and groovy; her rhythm & blues inspiration still very apparent but fused with a theatre-land soul reminiscent of musical freak-fests like Godspell, Superstar or Hair."
(Richard Searle, Acid Jazz/ Corduroy)
If Weller is the Modfather then Fay Hallam is the Modmother! Her new album has Bossa Nova and Hammond Grooves aplenty.
It’s also a fabulous album. A complete, start to finish journey of an album. A journey with fine, sunny weather to begin, then a few clouds, but no traffic jams or major hitches.
Fay Hallam reeks of class.Perfect hair. Great cheekbones. Whirlpool eyes.She was in Eighties Mod Band Makin’ Time… You can Google her history and if you’re a newcomer to her work, then start with this and work backwards.
She plays Hammond organ and sings in a clear, strong voice avoiding the vocal gymnastics of modern soul singers. As well as the Bossa Nova Mod, which at times is something of a modern Sade as much as Astrud Gilberto, there are some more funky work-outs (think The James Taylor Quartet’s ‘Wait A Minute’ album)
Fay’s last album, ‘Lost In Sound’, a collaboration with The Bongolian, was upbeat and majestic, with one sad song dedicated to her father, called ‘I Can’t Cry’. There is a very melancholy song on this album called ‘Without A Smile’ which covers similar ground and is very affecting.
‘Giving Myself Away’ has a real Ennio Morricone Mod feel about it with its chimes and melodrama.
A song called ‘Beck’ is a warm tribute in song to the artist of that name, with a chorus of ‘I wanna be like you’ and a lyric which describes his art and artistry. ‘Soul Revolution’, ‘Sunny’, and ‘Let Me Into Your Soul’ are upbeat toe-tappers, and the whole vibe of the album was inspired by a tour of Italy, and travelling back through the Alps and soaking up the ambience.
With influences like The Carpenters, Beck, and Frankie Laine, a more reflective mood and European cinematic atmosphere, Fay seems to be subtly asserting herself as a thoroughly contemporary artist, and not the retro-Mod throwback which she may have appeared to be.
This is an elegant, classy, timeless album, with style and substance, and a range of moods.
The only mainstream DJ who seems to have picked up on it so far is Don Letts on BBC 6 Music.
These days it needs a song on a film soundtrack or TV advert for it to break through into the public consciousness, which is a shame because Fay Hallam really should be as much of a household name as Paul Weller, if there was any justice.
Corona - 2015
The last Fay Hallam release was the collaboration with The Bongolian known as Lost In Sound, which was an incredibly popular release, not least because it was a really good album. Now Fay is back with a solo project on the Blow-Up label, Corona. And it’s not what you might be expecting.
The pre-publicity talked of bossa nova, The Carpenters, Beck, 50s pop and even a Paul McCartney cover. Not exactly prime ‘mod’ material. But definitely, the kind of thing that captured the interest of this particular reviewer. After all, why keep producing the same thing again and again?
In reality, the album isn’t quite such an extreme departure. But it is certainly more eclectic than you might have expected.
Some material is pretty much what I would have expected from a Fay Hallam release – Soul Revolution for example, is a funky groove with a bit of Hammond stabbing about in the background. The soulful Sunny too (no not that one) is another track that doesn’t drift too far from what I expected, while Let Me Into Your Soul is happy playing around in the land of a funky mod-friendly beat.
But then you get those jazzy, bossa grooves, such as (surprising) laid-back album opener Se Mi Ami, as well as Arco, which is a prime bit of Brazilia, the kind of thing you might expect of the jazz scene of the ‘80s and Beck, which hints at jazz, but with one foot firmly in the mainstream world. The title track and lyrics suggest a tribute to the man himself. Whether that’s the case, I don’t know. Lido mixes the bossa rhythm with some Hammond for a pleasant enough easy-esque instrumental.
And that’s not the only departure. 1000 Blue Ribbons is a slice of easy pop, Giving Myself Away is the kind of thing you’d expect on a soundtrack, a rather dark groove with a big production – you know what I mean. Touch of the spaghetti western about it if I’m honest. Without A Smile doesn’t quite fit into an easy-defined category either – a voice and a subdued backing. I think it’s generally described as ‘atmospheric’. Similarly, Summer’s Love is all about the voice and the production, both of which are very appealing. Not a million miles away is Stars, different backing, but the same laid back, late night tempo.
Oh yes, room for a cover too. Not the first time Maybe I’m Amazed has been tackled, but this is miles away from the Carleen Anderson version, a low key take on the track that gradually builds with the help of the backing singers and the Hammond. Another great ‘late night’ (yes, that again) groove.
If I was reviewing another Lost In Sound, I would probably be mildly enthusiastic, knowing I’d heard it all before. The fact that this is so different is perhaps what is so appealing. Whether that’s the case for you, I don’t know – to depends on your own taste, obviously.
But personally, I think this is a brave album and a very good album, featuring a number of songs that seem to have a familiarity about them despite only being written in the relatively recent past. It’s a mixed bag of styles and influences, but a bag that holds together well as an album and one that definitely appeals to me.
"Lost In Sound" (2012)
Fay Hallam is one of those treasured singers who in a parallel universe could be a household name. Despite a past that includes fronting Makin’ Time with Charlatans bassist Martin Blunt and The Prime Movers, Fay is largely unknown. This could all be about to change with her latest album ‘Lost In Sound’, which sees her collaborating with The Bongolian. ‘Lost In Sound’ is an album full to the brim with that classic Hammond organ sound, that combined with Fay’s powerful and soulful vocals creates an album that’s impossible not to get absorbed in.
Highlights on the album include opener ‘Freefall’, a song that has a very Northern Soul feel to it, the way the Hammond Organ, guitars and vocals combine is a statement of intent. ‘Dancing’ has such an infectious chorus you will be left scratching your head wondering why is this not at the top of the charts. ‘Lights Are Coming Down’ and ‘Gathering’ both provide the album with some beautiful and tender moments. ‘I Don’t Need You To Love Me’ which closes the album with style, weaving its way from darkness to joy in such a perfect way.
‘Lost In Sound’ is an album that will hopefully see Fay Hallam finally achieve the success her songs deserve.
Swedish artist Magnus Carlson has soul.
Clash caught the performer in London last year, and he didn't disappoint, delivering a set that would have worked in the Flamingo club back in 1965.
Debut UK solo album 'A Nordic Soul' arrives on June 22nd, and it a stellar piece of blue eyed soul, one for Mods, Soulies, and Scooterboys everywhere.
Album highlight 'Now That It's Over' features a co-write, and guest vocals from bona-fide Mod legend Fay Hallam, whose many projects over the years have built into an imposing catalogue of underground music.
The two voices intertwine on pleading, plaintive new cut 'Now That It's Over', and we're able to share the full visuals.
A behind the scenes look at the studio process, it shows two artists completely dedicated to their craft, immersing themselves in the music.