Monday, 19 November 2012



The title alone should be enough to get you almost wetting yourself in anticipation for this latest release from the prolific contemporary folk troubadour that is Seth Lakeman. His uniquely produced and most recent album Tales From The Barrel House, was simply amazing but this Live EP goes even further. With an angel hoard in the guise of the BBC Concert Orchestra at Seth’s back, expect to be carried off to a heavenly paradise on a white winged Pegasus, with a shower of warm golden rays raining down over you. Wherever you listen, be it on the move or resting up, it has the ability to spin the globe under your feet without moving so much as a single hair on your head. It brings tales directly to you in the form of richly woven tapestries, which swirl and entertain you to the max.

With five of Seth’s well-known songs featured, both fans and anyone new to his music are in for a right royal treat. Opening with Blacksmith’s Prayer (Tales From The Barrel House), the added army of instruments compliment Seth’s mandolin with razor sharp precision. They immediately build up so many intricate layers to the song, you may want to get hold of a map to find your way out of it. You feel so close to that Blacksmith you can feel his sad warm breath on your neck as he laments his dying trade. One thing is for sure, that prayer will not only be heard but also felt with phenomenal force. The urgency of even just the string section half way through manifests the ghosts of all Blacksmiths from everywhere in a desperate bid to be remembered and noticed. It is a sublime goosebumps music moment!

The Lady of the Sea herself graces your presence while flanked by mermaid masses doing synchronised summersaults to the nostalgic nautical notes of this song from Freedom Fields. Buckle up your lifejacket as the mighty ship soars out into the ocean carried along by the tidal waves of a violin chorus wrapped around the bold brass winds. Music was made to be played this way, big, bold and atmospheric. There are Changes (Hearts & Minds) afoot as the third track reins things in somewhat. It’s a good job really, to allow your mind to readjust itself back to reality after such an epic start. The subtlety of it is welcome and the delicacy so many musicians playing at once can achieve is quite breathtaking.

You better dress up in your finest finery for King & Country (Freedom Fields). With its rapturous royal fanfare of an introduction don’t be surprised if you’re left wondering when the King will appear. The layers weaved by the orchestra on this song to accompany Seth’s mandolin, capture the deep personal emotion of the lyrics very well. It wouldn’t have felt right had Kitty Jay not been included on this release and boy does it bring the collection to a perfect close. It is always a pleasure watching Seth play this song at a gig and this version will not disappoint. The thunderous drums crash down with such foreboding menace, as if Gods are stomping across the earth hunting something out. The fast and furious fiddling is present of course but Seth is joined by the string section and together with the wonderful arrangement of the other sections, this version of his own classic will have you out of breath by its end. 

The only thing that would have made this EP better is if it was a) longer or b) if Kitty Jay had sparked a furious and lengthy jamming session between Seth & the strings, or indeed the entire orchestra. Oh, the fiddle-off that could result from such a thing. The energy would be enough to light the world for an eternity! Renewable energy too, of a sort. I have a feeling this live recording will not be every fan’s cup of tea but personally, I cannot praise it enough. With a huge love and appreciation for classically trained musicians it is always delightful to hear them take on more contemporary or unusual genres and get it right. As a Seth fan myself, this provides a new way to experience his music, adding a totally different dimension. I’ve no doubt this was a big challenge for all involved, Seth included, but it is one that really has paid off.

You can pre-order your limited edition signed copy of the EP in various formats from ProperMusic:

Alternatively you can pre-order it from Amazon >>here<<.

I've actually sent a few questions on to the lovely folk at Prescription PR who I thank for the opportunity of reviewing this record. They have passed them on so I'm hoping they come back with answers so I can edit the little interview into this post. I think it will compliment it nicely. Fingers crossed.

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