Tales from the Barrel House – Seth Lakeman folking album review

Seth Lakeman’s hotly anticipated new album – Tales from the Barrel House has now arrived on the streets and it’s HOT!

All 10 tracks are Seth’s self penned and performed which include layers of his own vocals sandwiched together with various Seth style instrumental arrangements, including a hammer on an anvil and whatever else he could lay his hands on. Seth produced and mixed it too.

The setting of the studio was the cooperage Barrel House workshop in the beautiful surrounds of Morwellham Quay in West Devon which is quite near Seth’s home. He was born and brought up on the surrounds of Dartmoor which has inspired a lot of Lakeman repertoire like the hugely celebrated Kitty Jay from the album of the same name…

The Barrel House tracks are inspired from hard core copper miners most of which started mining from the age of Seven –  toiling for hours on end in the dusty hole for a pittance. More than Money is the first track of the album depicting this and it was recorded down the mine to give it an additional dramatic effect!

Blacksmith’s Prayer is a favourite of mine, axe on anvil for percussion –  ‘an epitaph to a blacksmith’s life and a disappearing craft.’

The Watchmakers Rhyme is a dedication to watchmaker George Routledge and in it Seth weaves the tale in with the mechanics of the song. Hard Road tells of factories/mines having to close and the subsequent hard  road of survival. Sender is about the letters between two lovers which bought a watery eye to this fair maiden!

On to the sea now and Salt from our Veins tells of life and livelihood. Brothers of Penryn has a steady beat we all know and expect from Seth and is about a prodigal son and greed of his family. Apple of His Eye is another tearjerker! Another of Seth’s foot stompers follows – Higher Walls, fast becoming another favourite of mine which is about workers in a chain gang and their sense of entrapment.

The album slips away quietly with the Artisan which is about a woodworker and his trade, reliving his life as he works. Reminds me of my late father and it shook me to the core as wasn’t prepared for the soulful and meaningful words pulling at the heart strings of my memories.

So in summary, an excellent album from Seth, interestingly released too late for this years Radio 2 Folk Awards so I’ll hazard a guess that it will clean up at the following 2013 event. A true work of art… with plenty of fiddle still in there too!

Jean Camp

Artist’s website: http://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/

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