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Baker's Dozen

Gold Dust Of Our Musical Worth: Ian Anderson's Favourite Albums
Barnaby Smith , June 6th, 2013 06:47

Ahead of a one-off show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Jethro Tull man picks out his thirteen finest albums


Seth Lakeman - Freedom Fields
Lakeman came along at a time when a new wave of folk music began in the UK. It was a new wave of young musicians who very often had parents who were part of the Sixties period of British folk music, which owed a lot to traditional forms but was being played in a spirited way that hadn’t been done before. We had an eruption of bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, who took traditional music and gave it a bit of sophistication with an awareness of rock music.

That second generation, their children, picked up their guitars in the early part of this century and it took on a new form. People like Seth Lakeman came along and made music that I don’t think had been done before. He writes pretty much only about events and myths and legends, stuff that is very real in the southwest of the UK, where he has stayed. There are a lot of shipwrecks and smuggling and historical stuff in Seth Lakeman’s songs. He doesn’t do love songs – Seth sings about stuff. Sometimes it’s upbeat, but quite often it’s about rather dark, tortured and twisted events from the last couple of hundred years in that part of the country.

With Seth Lakeman I kind of know exactly where he is going and have this sixth sense about his music, although we come from very different backgrounds. I just know where his fingers are going next. He plays a tenor guitar, a four-string guitar, which simplifies the chordal backdrop and creates an ambiguity where majors and minors go out the window. You get a lot of open chords and chords where if you employ the seventh or the ninth, it’s a very pronounced addition because the chord consists of only four notes, and the chances are two of them are the same note an octave apart anyway. It’s a very direct way of playing.

He writes mostly, I guess, on tenor guitar using a variety of tunings and plays some very basic but very rhythmic and energetic fiddle. We’ve played together live and he’s a very nice man and a very fine musician, and one who deserves more than the initial success and recognition he got with this album. I wouldn’t say his career has stalled, but he should be enjoying the success that Mumford & Sons have. I think Seth Lakeman is the more important performer and singer. I wish he was half as popular as they are.