Word of Mouth inspires Seth’s latest album and tour

Seth Lakeman
Seth Lakeman
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The title of Seth Lakeman's latest album is an odd one.

Called Word of Mouth, the album celebrates human stories collected by Lakeman.

He says: “I basically set out to interview people from across the West Country with interesting stories.

“I did about 100 interviews and it was fascinating.

“In many ways it was my most ambitious record and I spent more than two years gathering all the material.”

The 37-year-old’s interviewees included a steam engine driver.

He says: “I had a shortlist of about 25 songs in the end.”

In many ways the album – like its title – goes to the heart of the aural folk tradition, which is, after all, to tell stories.

Seth says: “It’s about spreading these stories, but the record’s not only folky, there are also rocky and country elements to it as well.

“I wanted to make the music reflect the subject matter as well, so the song about the steam engine driver has a country-style rhythm to it.”

However, there are also more melancholy moments on the record.

Seth says: “Portrait of my Wife is the most sombre song on the record.”

Its lyrics – even without the accompanying music – – are enough to jerk a tear.

He sings: “My heart is very sad I vow. One thing cheers me through my life. The only merit I have left. The portrait of my wife.”

Seth says: “The songs are touching in different ways.

“There is one about a ploughman and the friendship he had with his horse.

“It’s about how a man can connect with an animal.

“I have a springer spaniel and I can relate to that. But while I love that song and the story, it didn’t make it to the album.”

This process of gathering first-hand accounts of characters and communities has brought about a new way of working for the folk singer.

He says: “When you are always writing is it difficult to keep it evolving.

“It’s always a struggle to generate more material and make it different, but you have to. And it’s just about being disciplined.”

He is touring Word of Mouth this month – including a show at Sheffield City Hall on Wednesday.

He says: “It’s going to be a good tour and I am excited about playing the City Hall.

“We always have a good time when we play Sheffield.”