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SETH LAKEMAN - Make Your Mark 

SETH LAKEMAN - Make Your Mark 
Honour Oak Records HNR04 

In the 15 years since his album, Kitty Jay, was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, Seth has sure made his mark, striding boldly aloft the folk scene with his distinctive and irrepressible presence – his forthright vocal work, energetic fiddle playing and charismatic songwriting often based on West Country local history and concerns. Even so, and with typical resilience, Seth says, “the pandemic gave me a real determination to come out musically stronger and I really dug deep into myself for this album.”

As you’ll hear, he’s written 14 powerful new songs, which encompass an even wider range of themes with assurance and a sense of purpose. These include environmental concerns (Hollow, Coming For You Soon), conservation (Shoals To Turn), enduring relationships (Love Will Still Remain, Bound To Someone, Constantly), nature and folk memory (The Lark), remembrance (Side By Side, Fallen Friend) and self-belief (the title track), alongside the more familiar exploration of industrial-heritage (Underground) and regional occurrences (Giant). Seth explores all these issues with maturity; his thought-provoking and reflective, while realistic outlook on the darker issues invoked is exemplified on the upbeat and positive, if cautionary Higher We Aspire.

From a limited easing of restrictions, Seth has also managed to derive much spiritual energy from being able to record and play with his favourite musicians again, and this shows in the solid, laid-back confidence of the music-making on Make Your Mark, his latest offering and 11th studio album. Here he’s joined by Benji Kirkpatrick (stunning on bouzouki, mandolin and banjo) and backing singer Alex Hart (who displays a great sense of dynamics), and rhythm section comprising long-time bassist Ben Nicholls and drummer Toby Kearney.

In a way, then, the title of the album is Seth’s call-to-arms, exhorting us all to act in response to the issues facing the world.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine