Seth Lakeman (Barrie Thompson)
Seth's songs of the sea
By Laura Joint
Seth Lakeman's forthcoming new album is full of songs about the sea around the South West coast. The Dartmoor-based folk star has been speaking to BBC Devon's Laura Joint.
Devon folk star Seth Lakeman was only a young boy at the time of the Penlee Lifeboat disaster in December 1981.
But the story of the tragedy, in which 16 people perished, made him sit and think about the sea around the Devon and Cornwall coast.
The result is a new album, due out in early 2008, full of songs about the South West's seas.
Seth, who lives on Dartmoor, is putting the finishing touches to the album, called Poor Man's Heaven.
He told BBC Devon: "I'm still working on it but I've recorded about 12 of the songs, which is pretty much there really.
Seth perfoming live in Devon in 2006
"It has a coastal concept, based around Devon and Cornwall. The sea is so important for all our lives, those of us who come from Devon and Cornwall.
"The Story of Solomon Browne really sums up the album. December 2006 was the 25th anniversary of the Penlee Lifeboat disaster and it inspired me to write about it.
"That in turn inspired the rest of the album.
"I was only young at the time but my father (journalist, Geoff) covered the story. The song is about the bravery and courage of these eight lifeboatmen who put to sea and lost their lives."
Sixteen people perished in all: the lifeboat crew, and the eight seamen on board the stricken cargo ship they were assisting, Union Star.
The new album again features Seth's brother, Sean, a double bass player and a percussionist.
Fans can get a taste of the album, with an EP which was released to coincide with Seth's UK tour in September and October 2007.
The EP - which was released in October 2007 - has the title track, Poor Man's Heaven, and Race to be King. Other tracks are Lillywhite Girl and a live version of How Much.
Seth's record company Relentless say that the EP showcases a "rhythmic, driving side to his songwriting, while staying true to the themes and instrumentation of his previous work."
Seth said: "We've played so much together live and we've moved on, but it's definitely our style."
This is Seth's fourth album, and will be the follow-up to 2006's Freedom Fields, which sold 100,000 copies and earned him Folk Singer of the Year and Album of the Year Awards in the BBC Radio 2 folk awards.
Seth doesn't get back to Devon so much these days
Seth's big break came with his self-released 2005 album, Kitty Jay, which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.
Like his forthcoming album, those two previous CDs were also about the South West: Kitty Jay is a legendary Dartmoor story, and Freedom Fields is an area of Plymouth where an important battle in the English Civil War took place.
The autumn 2007 tour was Seth's biggest to date and included a gig at Exeter University's Great Hall.
Seth said: "To headline some of these venues is really exciting for folkies like us.
"It's really nice that acoustic and folk music is so popular now. People like KT Tunstall and Damien Rice are helping to spread the word."
The downside to all the touring and recording is that Seth doesn't get to spend so much time on Dartmoor.
"I don't get there very often - although I did get a week there recently. You need time to reflect every now and then.
"But we're having a fun time, and we are very privileged to be able to do what we do."
last updated: 14/03/2008 at 16:00