Seth Lakeman – Hearts and Minds
I’m a long time Seth Lakeman admirer. I’ve been a fan since second album Kitty Jay, and since then have invested in his entire discography (yes, I even own debut Punch Bowl.) So every time he announces a new album, I get excited. Hearts and Minds is his fifth full-length (not counting the Poor Man’s Heaven EP). It’s the follow-up to Poor Man’s Heaven, and is more like that album than any other. Similarly, his second and third records Kitty Jay and Freedom Fields really complement each other.
So, his first album was the most folky of the lot, and since then he’s got progressively rockier [see Fig 1.0]. This does two things:
(1) Help him find a more mainstream audience, get played on BBC Radio, etc.
(2) Alienate the fans who prefer the more folky material.
In my opinion, his second album and his third album was where he hit the nail on the head. They were the perfect mix of rock and folk, and were enough to please fans of both camps. His fourth album, Poor Man’s Heaven, was the rockiest album of the lot, and suffered from this. However, on Hearts and Minds, he seems to have taken a step back in the right direction. This can be heard on songs like ‘Stepping Over You’ and ‘Hard Working Man’. The lesson to be learned here is that you can still have crossover success without reneging on your roots. There’s plenty of songs on the new album that should be admired, and the album is his best work since Freedom Fields, but it’s still trying to hard to be rock.
In conclusion, what Lakeman needs to do is try to balance rock and folk better, and then he’ll have made a must-listen album. Who says he doesn’t have that five star classic in him? Based on his past output, it’s definitely possible [see Fig 2.0].