‘Word Of Mouth’ by Seth Lakeman - heritage, history, tradition and innovation combined(January 23, 2014)
The press release calls ‘Word Of Mouth’ – ‘a defining album for Seth Lakeman’s storied career and for the landscape of British folk’ – well that pretty much says it all. Apart from the fact that all the words written about the man probably equate to several well-sized dictionaries it’s not that easy to add a new ‘two penn’orth’. ‘Word Of Mouth’ is, as one would say, ‘comprehensive’. To explain, it’s released as a CD, LP and a limited special-edition two-CD and DVD ‘Bookpack’ that includes a music CD, a second CD with three ‘bonus tracks’ and nine interviews, a ‘Making Of …’ DVD and a 24 page booklet of photographs and lyrics.
When you listen, you get what you expect, classic Lakeman narratives combined with iconic melodies and distinctive vocals but he’s taken another step, delivering a fuller and more complex sound. Probably, something to do with contributions from his band, along with Ben Nicholls, Cormac Byrne, Lisbee Stainton and Sean Lakeman, plus Leon Hunt on banjo, cellist India Bourne and Martin Green on accordion. The songs feature real-life stories about real people – the basic inspiration for the album. ’Word of Mouth’ blends folk heritage, history and tradition with contemporary folk elements – as I said, ‘classic Lakeman’.
You can dodge between the CDs or hear each one through. The spoken narratives add reality and presence. Take ‘The Wanderer’ a powerful, emotive song that tells of a traveller recalling an old, hard life on the road; while the spoken word reflects a hankering for that long-gone old life. The same couplet of music and words enrich‘Labour She Calls Home’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Last Rider’ – making each message more pertinent. There are songs with no spoken narrative ‘The Saddest Crowd’, ‘The Ranger’ and the exceedingly personal ‘My Wife’ – all doubtless future classics.
‘Word Of Mouth’ does exactly what Lakeman intends – marking out times, histories, communities, incidents and individual experiences. Most may listen to the spoken word CD once only but the music CD will enjoy replay after replay.
Reviewer: Charlie Elland