Seth Lakeman's simple twist of fete

THERE are always some unlikely obstacles when Seth Lakeman is recording an album.

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Seth Lakeman has been a regular at Celtic Connections
Seth Lakeman has been a regular at Celtic Connections

Having previously worked in a copper mine, the top folk troubadour headed into an East Cornwall church for new album Word Of Mouth.

It's worked wonders for the record - but the singer had to balance his work around other events.

"We had to stop work every Tuesday because they were having a village fete meeting in the church," says the singer, who plays the O2 ABC on January 31, as part of Celtic Connections.

"The farmer next door was driving past on his quad bike sometimes, and we had to stop for him too.

"It was hard to control the reverb in there but the fact we could use the bells played a part, and we used the church organ on a few tracks."

It all adds up to arguably Seth's most complete album yet.

Word Of Mouth follows the path set on his previous album, Tales From The Barrel House, which saw him inspired by trades around his home in Devon, from carpenters to blacksmiths.

This time he's gone out, interviewing around 100 people in the local area and finding out their stories, then turning them into songs.

There are tunes inspired by a Second World War veteran and poetry from Dartmoor prison.

He's even included some of the interviews on a second CD, offering an insight into the creative process while the record features his live band, as well as guests such as Lau's Martin Green and cellist India Vaughn.

"It was a huge project. Something like this can be as far and wide as you want it to be, there are no boundaries to it.

"I had to be disciplined and say, right, I'm sitting down and I'm going to write properly now."

Some of the experiences proved to be emotional, for both the singer and his interviewees.

"I went to Dartmoor prison and wanted to interview some of the prisoners, then a lady who's been working there for years gave me a CD of this poetry competition they'd done," he says.

"There was this fabulous Richard Burton style speaker on it, who'd written amazing stuff.

"I also knew a guy called Reg Hannaford, who was a survivor of Operation Tiger [the disastrous D-Day rehearsal that took place in Devon]. It was emotional."

One thing that is predictable, though, is that he is to play at Celtic Connections. A regular visitor over the years, Seth says the festival is "a breath of fresh air".

The singer, who will stay in Glasgow for a few days, said: "It always a great city to explore, especially as there's so many gigs. I've been working out what I can blag my way into..."

Seth Lakeman, O2 ABC, Friday January 31, £16, 7.30pm

Arts and Entertainment

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