Recorded this summer in a studio set-up in a Cornish church, ‘Word of Mouth’ is a defining album for Seth Lakeman’s storied career which sees its release this coming February 2014 on Cooking Vinyl Records.
The album, released as a 2CD & DVD bookpack, is the natural successor to 2011’s ‘Tales From the Barrel House’. It keeps the stripped-back storytelling but embellishes it with a denser, fuller version of Seth’s hauntingly melodic style.
Seth has bared his traditional folk roots more than ever before with ‘Word of Mouth’. The sound is deeper and more dramatic than previous albums, in part owing to Seth’s recruitment of his live band: Ben Nicholls (double bass) and Cormac Byrne (percussion).
Guests on the album include Leon Hunt playing banjo on ‘Last Rider’, cellist India Vaughan on ‘The Wanderer’ and Lau accordion player Martin Green on ‘Tiger’. Ian Gimble, a veteran of Abbey Road studios whose CV includes boasts the Manic Street Preachers and Cat Stevens, recorded and engineered the album making it the first of Seth’s career without him or his brother Sean in this role.
Recorded in North Tamerton Church in East Cornwall and featuring the stories of the real people who inspired the album, ’Word of Mouth’ straddles the folk tradition Seth’s music is steeped in and the contemporary folk movement that he has become such a seminal figure of.
‘Kitty Jay’, Seth’s Mercury award-nominated second album, was recorded in his Kitchen for £300. His last offering ‘Tales From the Barrel House’ was recorded partly in a copper mine. With those behind him, a church seems a natural choice for this album. As Seth explains, it’s about capturing the sound of the room, a much-forgotten part of the recording process, “I enjoyed the honesty and edginess of that, the instruments, certainly wooden instruments, breathe a bit more.”
“It is the complete opposite to building a record in the studio. Sometimes just singing some of the lyrics, looking up at the stained glass window – it was a powerful, emotional feeling, I think it adds to the passion. You can hear the birds, something could be tuned here or there but there’s no autotune, reverb or effects added – just the church.”
Inspired by the work of Alan Lomax, the second CD of the album contains interviews with the real life protagonists of the album’s stories. These include a long-serving worker railway worker (‘The Last Rider’), a dock working veteran of 40 years (‘The Longest Night’), a travelling couple who have put down roots but still long for their old life on the road (‘The Wanderer’), a man carrying a troubled memory of World War 2 (‘Tiger) and those who annually honour the Tolpuddle Martyrs struggle for workers rights (‘Each Man’).
As well as tying him to the folk tradition of telling the stories of ordinary people, Seth hopes these interviews open up the artistic process. “it’s really just a fascination with people – being socially aware of the community where you’re from. [After] each of these interviews I’d go away and unpick and unravel it, obviously there’s artistic license but the interview becomes the bedrock for the song.”
‘Word of Mouth’ will be released February 3rd 2014 on Cooking Vinyl Records.
2014 Seth Lakeman Tour Dates
Sat 25 TRADFEST St Michan’s Church, Dublin
Fri 31 CELTIC CONNECTIONS Glasgow ABC
Wed 5 LONDON St James Church
Thu 6 LICHFIELD Cathedral
Fri 7 EXETER Cathedral
Sat 8 TRURO Cathedral