Seth Lakeman has become a victim of his own success. He brought folk to a new audience and notched up a top 10 album with Poor Man's Heaven, thanks to his technique of mixing stomping, attacking ballads with impressive violin work and furious strumming backing. But now he seems to be running out of ideas. When he started out, he was remarkable for his storytelling, and the way he could write about tragedies from the West Country, or the English civil war, with an easygoing urgency that made them sound like contemporary events. Now he has begun to treat far too many of his songs with an overblown sense of drama, and the result is a set that often sounds as if it was written to appeal to a boozy festival crowd punching their fists in the air. Simplistic lyrics and predictable riffs don't help. But there is thankfully some escape when he slows down for the thoughtful Spinning Days and Stepping Over You (which features good banjo work from Benji Kirkpatrick), while Preacher's Ghost is a reminder that he can still tell a good story and sound exciting.
Seth Lakeman: Hearts and Minds | CD review
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop