Navigator Records (label)
09 July 2012 (released)
07 July 2012
Husband and wife duo Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts have spent much of the past five years raising twin girls at their Dartmoor home – Hidden People’s title suggests they feel it is time they surfaced from parenthood. This is their first album since the demise of folk super-group Equation, in which they toured America extensively, without ever garnering the wider acclaim that they perhaps deserved.
Having seen his brother Seth, take a Mercury Prize nominated route towards the mainstream, it is interesting to see just how Lakeman and Roberts decide to evolve their sound. With songs called The White Hind, Lusty Smith and the wonderfully titled The Wisdom of Standing, this is most definitely a folk record. But there are elements of other genres. For example Oxford N.Y. has echoes of seventies Led Zeppelin, with Maddy Prior-esque vocals.
That track follows the opening vacuum of Huldra, with its pure layered vocals, while Money or Jewels is perhaps the closest thing to Seth Lakeman’s more commercial material. Hang The Rowan is more immediate but treads dangerously close to the territory of early material from The Corrs, with its Celtic tinged pop beat.
The vocal duels on The White Hind are hugely enjoyable, although the guitar and drum backing is slightly plodding. In comparison, the beautifully stripped-bare reflection on the miners’ strike that is The Ballad of Andy Jacobs is a different class; “Cassie love I am not sure I chose the right side, but tomorrow I will be standing on the line.”
The album has some star name guest appearances, with the likes of the Levellers’ Mark Chadwick, veteran folk singer Dave Burland and of course Seth Lakeman all featuring. They might not have got the recognition deserved in Equation, but if Roberts and Lakeman can find enough spare time away from parenting, hopefully they will produce more albums like this that could earn them the necessary accolades.