Album Review / Seth Lakeman: Make Your Mark

The big guy of British folk released a new album late in 2021 and I got to listening to it this week. And to take this one thing off the table right away: I think the album cover is just ****ing great. That axe-hewn face in huge closeup in stark monochrome – you instantly know he won’t be fooling around here. I love it. Face Value to the max.

I refreshed my memory re: the two previous Seth L. albums and memory served me right. A Pilgrim’s Tale was a fascinating narrative effort (and a very succesful one at that) and The Well Worn Path a solid folk/singer-songwriter effort. Compared to those two, Make Your Mark is… different. I think the difference is reflected in that cover photo: this album is mostly really intense, sometimes stark, with Seth’s vocals burning with an inner flame even in the quieter moments.

And there are, of course, some songs whose lyrics convey anger and frustration at how things around us are right now, without being overtly political in a way that would make them preachy and obvious. Lakeman is too good a lyricist for that.

The intensity is helped and perhaps partly created by a marvellously rich barrage of string instrumentation on almost every track. Pick up your Really Good Headphones and listen: there’s a lot happening on most tunes. The layers of various stringed instruments also help to create rhythmic pulses even on the tracks without drums.

My favorites are the opening triad of Hollow, the wonderfully groovin’ The Giant (a true story involving a certain whale) and the gentlest moment of the album, Love Will Still Remain. Perfect stuff, each of them.

I also truly like the title track, with its main statement so relevant in today’s dog eat dog world. For some reason The Lark reminded me of Zeppelin’s folkier moments on Zep III – coming from me, this is a positive point (I almost expected Bonzo’s drums and Page’s slide guitar to appear at some point). And as I’m a sucker for songs about fishermen, I love to bits the low-key flame of Shoals To Turn.

Stylewise, some parts of Make Your Mark are more Americana and some more Britfolk, so no surprises there. If you’re already a Lakeman follower, you probably have already spun this a few times and loved it. If you happen to be a newcomer, do pick this one up, as it’s a great gateway to a great songwriter – who also happens to be quite the dude with all those string instruments…

Make Your Mark is available in various formats on https://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/

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