Monday, April 6

Music – Jeff Hemmings: Seth Lakeman

- November 29, 2016


The oh-so close-to-being-the-pin-up-boy of folk music, Devon’s Seth Lakeman has come a long way since his album of 2004, ‘Kitty Jay’, was released on a minuscule £300 budget, but to much acclaim. Recorded in his kitchen (as was his 2002 debut, ‘The Punch Bowl’), it went on to be nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. It didn’t win, of course, but the Mercury people knew that here was something a little special. This young, driven and passionate performer, helping to bring back folk to its roots, after the unadventurous and unsuccessful forays into pop-folk, experienced by the band Equation, a group signed to a major label, and that included Seth, as well as his two brothers, Sean and Sam, and a very young Kate Rusby.

‘Kitty Jay’ also established Lakeman’s writing style, his songs speaking of the ancient, such is their raw, visceral and simplistic hues and tones. But while his albums normally consist of all original compositions, his recent album ‘Ballads of the Broken Few’ has reached out to the deep traditional songbook of the UK and America, bringing back to life four songs that he has stamped in his idiosyncratic style, producing updated versions that sit snugly with seven originals.

Raw, visceral and simplistic hues

With ‘Ballads of the Broken Few’ he has collaborated with the intuitive female vocal trio Wildwood Kin, made up of two sisters, Emilie and Beth Key, and their cousin Meghann Loney; their angelically lush tones contrasting with the more gritty voice of Lakeman.

Lakeman’s experimental and adventurous bearing has seen him go to unusual places to record in the past. He’s used a disused copper mine and cooperage (Tales From The Barrelhouse), whilst utilising loads of found instruments there including anvils, whilst his last album, Word of Mouth, was recorded in a Cornish church. For ‘Ballads of the Broken Few’, Lakeman, Wildwood Trio and producer Ethan Johns went to a great hall of a Jacobean Manor House, in effect delivering a rustic and rootsy contrast to the opulence of the setting.

Thursday 1 December, St. George’s Church,
7pm, £22.50

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