Pictured above: Local musician Emma Lawrence supported the great Seth Lakeman at Arlington Arts last week. The ever-improving singer-songwriter appeared happy and confident as she delivered a short set of her original numbers, including the familiar You Are and also a couple of good new songs that bode well for later releases. Emma was accompanied on acoustic guitar by new musical partner Sam Gould, which enabled her to concentrate more on her singing and stagecraft. The material is strong and Emma’s voice excellent; she is developing her talents further at music college and the future looks bright for her.
Ten years since ‘folkie’ Seth Lakeman broke through to the mainstream he has established himself as a true star with four UK top 40 albums. Like many folkies, he has also kept himself busy with multiple collaborations such as the prestigious Full English (an English Folk Dance and Song Society) project. Now a husband and father and pushing 40, Seth has clearly become settled and more contemplative and his set contained its share of slower, more thoughtful pieces.
The knowledgeable capacity crowd was no less than you would expect and Seth was quick to establish a connection, strolling on unannounced, casually dressed in shirt and jeans, as if for an intimate pub session. Armed with acoustic guitars, bouzouki, viola and, of course, his trademark violin, backed up by electronic drum and ambient sound effects from his smartphone, Seth is a genuine 21st century one-man band.
He told us he was going to draw on his whole back catalogue and more than 80 minutes and 18 songs duly delivered, even including one of his first, written for an early girlfriend (who duly left him in trad folk fashion). He added a couple of strong songs to whet the appetite for his next album Ballads of The Broken Few – due out in September – Whenever I’m Home and his sombre take on ageing, Silver Threads Among The Gold.
One thing that has not changed is Seth’s love of rural West Country landscapes and those who have forged their existence in them over the years. Thus most of the songs were of toil, suffering and loss. From opener The Herders, through to main set closer and ‘hit’ Kitty Jay, the quality was high, with my highlights probably The Colliers, Legend of the Bold Knight and his Full English contribution Stand By Your Guns.
It was intriguing to hear restrained solo versions of material from Freedom Fields, a lovely cover of Levon Helm’s Anna Lee and an air Seth wrote for period film drama Summer In February.