Seth Lakeman is set to release his eighth studio album, Ballads of the Broken Few, ahead of a performance at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music.
The album, produced by Ethan Jones and with harmony vocals by the emerging trio of Wildwood Kin, is due to be released on 16 September.
Ethan Johns has worked with the likes of Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, The Staves and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He agreed to produce the album after Seth sent him one roughly recorded song on his mobile phone, with Wildwood Kin adding their lush harmonies to his own gritty lead vocals.
Continuing Seth’s unique vision for recording in inspiring locations – previous albums have been recorded in a church and a copper mine – the 11 tracks for Ballads of the Broken Few were cut ‘live’ with an organic, acoustic vibe in the Great Hall of a Jacobean Manor House. The spiritual-sounding songs have a trance-like quality: they encompass evocative contemporary messages, yet have an ethereal sound as if they have been hanging in the air for centuries. Ethan has let nothing impair the raw, visceral content – just enshrined the pure sounds of voices and ringing instruments. He comments “The kind of record I like captures human performance.”
Seth’s vocals are complimented by the harmonies of Wildwood Kin – two sisters (Emillie and Beth Key) and their cousin (Meghann Loney), also from Devon. When Seth met them at a local charity gig, he was immediately struck by their effortless ability to create intuitive harmonies. Wildwood Kin join Seth Lakeman on tour as special guests.
Ballads of the Broken Few has seven original tracks plus a cover of Anna Lee, the Laurelyn Dossett song from Levon Helm’s Grammy-winning Dirt Farmer album. Seth also revisited the Cecil Sharp House archive featured in The Full English project, which resulted in him and fellow leading British folk musicians claiming “Best Group” and “Best Album” at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He has re-worked several traditional broadsides, including The Stranger and The Willow Tree, and there is also his take on a 19th century moralistic song, Pulling Hard Against the Stream. The album will be available on CD, vinyl and digital.
Since the Mercury Prize nominated Kitty Jay (recorded in his kitchen for £300), the follow-up gold selling Freedom Fields and his last, highly acclaimed offering, Word of Mouth, a collection of mini musical biographies of colourful West Country characters, Seth Lakeman has pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music. His innovative approach, ground-breaking albums and powerful live performances have put him at the forefront of the re-emergence of British folk and successfully steered it into the mainstream.
Seth Lakeman performs at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music on 8 November 2016 with special guests Wildwood Kin.