The pin-up of folk is back with his 6th studio album, Tales From The Barrel House, a beautiful lament to the dying traditional trades of his beloved Devonshire.
The 2000’s have been a whirlwind of success for Lakeman, with a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2004 album Kitty Jay, morning television appearances, national advertising and a celebrity following, Seth Lakeman was quickly becoming the face of modern folk music. However, it was apparent the influence of major labels and fame was affecting his music, turning it down Pop Avenue and away from the core musical ethics which Lakeman set for himself in his first album.
So you can imagine my joy when I heard Seth Lakeman was splitting from Virgin Records, creating his own label (Honour Oak Records) and producing it entirely by himself. That’s right; he wrote, mixed, produced and performed EVERY instrument on the album by himself, and the list of instruments is not a short one. He plays the fiddle, banjo, tenor guitar, viola and cello, all of which appear on the album. Along with this vast array of instruments, Lakeman utilises items such as chains, axes, bellows and anvils for percussion, all played and recorded in a disused barrel house in a cooperage at Morwelham Quay (hence the title of the album), excluding the opening track, More Than Money, which is recorded down an old copper mine to pay homage to the miners who used to toil there. This use of location really gives the album that echoed, traditional feel, giving the listener the impression of being right there in the room with Seth.
…virtually impossible not to enjoy…
It isn’t just copper miners that Lakeman honours to; he also sings about blacksmiths (Blacksmith’s Prayer), watchmakers (The Watchmakers Rhyme), fishermen (Salt from Our Veins), cider makers (Apple of his Eye) and carpenters (The Artisan).
Tales From The Barrel House is experimental, traditional and deep, a far cry from his previous 3 albums, yet the personality and sense of adoration Seth has for it comes seeping through the speakers, making it virtually impossible not to enjoy. This album is a major step in the right direction for not only Seth Lakeman, but folk music as a whole.