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Seth Lakeman Ft Wildwood Kin Seth Lakeman Ft Wildwood Kin
Album: Ballads Of The Broken Few
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Tracks: 11

Seth Lakeman is of course one of the biggest names on the folk scene. From the well seasoned folk veteran to those who have mildly flirted with traditional music, Seth Lakeman will be a staple. This recognition is of course well deserved as Seth never fails to release catchy music that just leaves you wanting more and yet happily full at the same time. His latest release, ballads of the broken few gives us a nice eleven course banquet of new and exciting music to sink our teeth into.

It should be pointed out at this stage that Seth Lakeman is not working along, he is joined by three very talented ladies known as Wildwood Kin, but more about their contribution as we progress. Let us begin by sampling the starter of this meal, and that is 'Willow Tree'. I instantly got chills when I hit the play button for this track. Something about the long held note and the slightly ghostly sounding backing vocals just instantly made me knew I was going to enjoy the track and it certainly did not disappoint. It has an air of 'Kitty Jay' and 'Riflemen of War' about it, following that strong Seth Lakeman style we all love but has that newly added spice which grips you.

I think this was definitely the best choice to start the album, as it plays to all of Seth's strengths and well known qualities but does not give away all the secrets and the ace cards straight away.

Am I the only person who still listens to albums in order?

There is good variety within the album itself, no two tracks sound the same and it shows off the skills of Seth and his guests nicely. I did notice that over the entire album has a very calming nature to it. Previous albums have been fiery and pumping. The kind you would listen to on a run or when having thoughts about going to the gym.

Ballads of the Broken Few seems much more soft and soothing and I think that is largely to do with the involvement of Wildwood Kin. They add this extra tone to the album that changes the songs just enough for it to be new and different but without taking anything away from the raw talent that Seth oozes throughout the entire work.

Having said that, the title song of the album 'Ballads of the Broken Few', breaks this pattern and has immediately been moved to the 'work out' list on my Ipod. This song is fast and extremely powerful. It bellows out a huge mixture of sounds from Seth's distinctive vocals to the roaring guitar and enchanting backing vocals. This perfect combination comes together and gives us a most wonderful track.

Music has become such a large and varied market there are times when it feels like nothing distinctive can come along any more. This album from Seth gives the music world plenty to talk about and plenty of genuinely fresh material that the market needs.

I mentioned earlier about Wildwood Kin who feature throughout the album. I think this is a collaboration which should only grow and they really do complement each other. Throughout the album Wildwood Kin give that extra spark which takes each track to the next level.

I found in particular that they really shine bright in 'Innocent Child'. Their voices are very different to Seth and this particular track really allows you to experience the range that this partnership allows. And it is beautiful.

Finally it seems appropriate to end to this review by looking at the end of the album 'Pulling Hard Against the Stream'. This is by far the most gentle of all the tracks on the album and really helps to wind you down ready for the end. Smooth fiddle playing and a steady lullaby like voice from Seth just nicely tucks you in.

One credit I must give Seth is the way he organises his albums. I have notice don his previous work too that tracks seem to slot in perfectly. Either this is completely coincidental or Seth takes a lot of time to look at his tracks and knows how he wants the album to flow from start to finish.

I suspect he is a man who plans meticulously.

Paul Rawcliffe