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SETH LAKEMAN - A Pilgrim's Tale 

SETH LAKEMAN - A Pilgrim's Tale 

The year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Separatists to the New World. Seth has here marked the occasion with an album that oozes integrity, and sees him telling the story of the voyage - and the incredible hardships of the first year - in songs told from a variety of perspectives.

His own multi instrumentalism and vocals are aided by his sister-in-law Cara Dillon, Benji Kirkpatrick, Ben Nicholls, and father, Geoff Lakeman. Their work is of the highest order, but the masterstroke is getting actor Paul McGann to narrate between each song. What a wonderful choice. Not since Jeff Wayne hired Richard Burton to narrate the story in The War Of The Worlds, has anyone matched it... until today that is. McGann has that same controlled stoicism in his voice that Burton had: perfect for the mood of the time. Not for him the quivering rectitude of the Judge at the Salem witchcraft trials, just seven decades later.

My favourite track was a toss-up between the haunting instrumental Mayflower Waltz and the song Watch Out, with Lakeman’s violin being movingly backed by a vocal from Cara, as a Wampanoag girl who has a premonition of the arrival of the Mayflower, and knows it will not turn out well for her tribe. How right she was: over the next few centuries, the tribe was virtually wiped out. But that's another story for another time.

Here, Seth doesn't put a foot wrong dealing with his limited timespan. In fact, the only thing I can berate him on is not on what you hear, but what you read, viz. his inability to put his lyrics on to his website. You would need the eyes of a red-tailed hawk to read his liner notes without getting a headache. But it was a headache worth having.

Dai Woosnam


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine