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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 September 2006
Bought this CD after hearing "Setting of the Sun" on the BBC Folk Awards 2006 compliation and haven't regretted it. It's definitely a folk album: "Setting of the Sun" is one of those ridiculous folk tales about a young man who shoots his true love, mistaking her (and her white apron) for a swan; "1643" is a rousing account of a key battle in the English civil war; "Lady of the Sea" has all the honest, self-unconcious, sweeping emotion (for me) only folk songs can convey. However, rythmically, melodically, lyrically, and in his voice, it somehow manages to bridge the gap between folk and contemporary, indie guitar music. "The Final Lot" sounds like acoustic punk. It's pure pathos, of course: love, loss, regret, pride, courage are all to be found. It's an album to come back to over and over again. Try it. You don't have to be into Morris Dancing to like English folk music....
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on 17 August 2006
If ever there was an artist capable of destroying long time stereotypes and preconceptions of folk music as a stale and dated genre, Seth Lakeman is it. Transcending genres, you can't help but admire this album for it's wonderfully written songs performed by a group of musicians who really know their stuff. Each track is completely different the one before it, and in fact, from any other songs out there, folk our otherwise. Seth's fiddle and tenor guitar playing has a major part in the originality of the songs, but it's his voice that really makes them stand out.

This re-released album contains the lovely remixed versions of `Lady of the Sea' and `White Hare'. It would be easy to ruin a great song like `Lady of the Sea' by overproducing it, but this can certainly not be said about this fantastic version. Keeping all the vitality and freshness of the original, this version has a great beat, harmonies and bass that only adds to the sound, transforming it from `sweet' to `epic'.

Although based on legends and stories from the West Country, specifically Dartmoor, Seth Lakeman and his band play each song as though it is contemporary tale of love, loss, or tragedy, and each feels as relevant to life as if it were based on something that happened yesterday. From sweet ballads like `King and Country' to the `blokey folk' songs about soldiers and miners (`The Colliers' and `The Riflemen of War'), there's not a single track on this album that I haven't had on constant repeat for days at a time. If you're tired of soulless songs played by people who don't know the first thing about music, buy this album: I can guarantee you won't have heard anything more honest and original than `Freedom Fields' - unless it's Seth Lakeman's previous album, `Kitty Jay'.
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on 28 June 2006
Mostly written and recorded around the time that his previous album Kitty Jay was nominated of the Mercury Music Prize, Freedom Fields finds young folk-indie singer Seth Lakeman continuing with self-penned and traditional songs inspired by the legends and stories of Dartmoor.

The new album has more guitar and less of Seth's exhilarating violin than Kitty Jay though the songs are more realised and better put together. Violin features on less than half of the tracks with the stirring fiddle and percussion-led Lady Of The Sea being a particular highlight.

The more guitar-based tunes usually feature prominent tenor guitar by Seth backed by conventional acoustic guitar from his brother Sean and other members of Seth's excellent touring band. The four-string tenor guitar has an unusual tuning giving it a sound reminiscent of some of Jimmy Page's acoustic playing with Led Zeppelin. This is particular apparent in the driving chordal riff of opening track The Charmer. The greater emphasis on guitar also gives Freedom Fields a more poppy sound than its predecessor with the "hold your fire" refrain on The Colliers being superbly or annoyingly catchy depending on your politics...

Like Kitty Jay, much of FF was recorded in Seth's kitchen which, coupled with the excellent minimal arrangements, help to give the album a warm, intimate sound. Similar but with some differences, it's difficult to say which of the two albums is better with your first Lakeman purchase possibly being determined by whether you prefer folk violin or guitar.

It will be interesting to see how Seth's sound changes now that he has signed to a major label of sorts and will be encouraged into working at bigger studios and presumably releasing more commercial material. Some change is inevitable but hopefully he will retain his folk values and continue to make excellent albums like Freedom Fields.
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on 27 October 2007
I actually bought this album earlier this year in HMV (sorry amazon)! There I was browsing in the shop(while my wife was up to her eyes in clothes shopping) when i found myself captivated by the music being played in the store... as i walked around the shop, song after brilliant song could be heard from this seemingly unheard-of group.

I approached a girl at the counter and enquired, and she showed me the album. I bought it there and then!

The haunting stories and songs about myths and legends had me totally HOOKED! It hardly left my CD player. Infact, i liked it SO much that i bought the pre-release of this very same album for my car! (also brilliant).

The lyrics are just brilliant! Clear to the ear and easy understand. And if its the more musical side of CD's that you'd listen to, you certainly won't be dissapointed with this either! I have purchased the guitar tablature book to accompany this album and only then we're my eyes properly opened to the complexity of some of his music. Simply stunning!

Since then I have seen Seth & the group live on two occasions and both times i was totally blown away! The CD is GREAT, but if you get chance to see him live... YOU MUST NOT MISS IT.

My simple advise to anyone looking at buying this CD is this...
DO IT! You'll not regret it!

I hope you too discover Seth Lakeman soon!
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on 29 September 2006
I bought the first released version of Freedom fields when it came out and loved it. Seth Lakeman manages to mix the historical importance of old stories with the energy and feeling of contemporary music, whilst still having his roots deep in English folk music. I then found out he had released it again after some more work which I was a bit sceptical about (buy a new album for just a couple more songs) but it was worth it. I love the new version of White Hare (no offence to banjos) and I look forward to getting the next one. Can't wait to see him in Wolverhampton!
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2007
I love this album. Several of the songs are top of my 'most listened to' list on my iPod.

I know some people might be a little put off by the folk label - don't be (great music is great music.)

The grounding of the songs in history (or legend) brings a very different sensibility to this album to a lot of other music out there and that timelessness is cemented by Seth Lakeman's voice and very English accent.

I adore the insistent fiddle and drums on 'Lady of the Sea' - it perfectly captures the urgency of a ship under full sail skimming across the water.

'The Colliers' is my absolute favourite. I love the arangement with the repeated, interwoven refrains and simple instrumentation.

With 'Childe the Hunter' it's those momentary pauses in the vocal and the melancholy chorus.

'1643' - I love the stately, marching pace of the song and the catchy 'These four walls are at the heart of the kingdom.'

'Riflemen of War' - fantastic intro, and then a driving drum beat which rises to the fore in the arrangement at key points.

Other favourties include the White Hare and the Charmer - basically I like the whole album!
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on 28 September 2006
I cannot hesitate to wholly recommend this album to anyone who is considering it - I have played it nearly every day since I bought it.

Lakeman's vocals are heartfelt and real, and although the musicianship on the album is not particuarly stand-out, the arrangements and the ways in which the instruments are used is excellent - a particularly striking example of this is on 'The Colliers' - possibly my favourite track, along with 'The Charmer'.

I have had comments from nearly all of my friends though, that the album is quite 'samey' after a while. Although I am at present still completely taken in by how much I am enjoying it, I think I may eventually become slightly bored by it, as there is not an awful lot going on in the songs, and one could argue that they are slightly formulaic. However, I argue that Lakeman's sound, however 'samey', is original, fresh and exciting, and I have already had my money's-worth a hundred times over.

Anyone who is hesitating - hit 'add to cart' and you will not be disappointed.
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on 1 April 2006
Thanks to the Mercury nomination I first heard of Seth Lakeman, introducing me to a whole new world.
This is fantastic third album. The Mercury nominated "Kitty Jay" was always going to be difficult to follow, but Seth has certainly achieved it with "Freedom Fields". A mix of ballads, poems and Dartmoor legends set against a background of a haunting rustic violin.
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on 24 October 2006
Seth Lakeman comes from Dartmoor in Devon. Where I come from. He puts his musical talents to good use. Watching him play the fiddle has inspired me to further myself in my musical skills. Also his wonderful blend of indie and folk is to be on everyone's wishlist. But seeing this talented guy on music channels such as 'The Box' and 'The Hits' with videos that have me scared that he is going to become pop, starting with pop genre videos. But all of the songs on this album are truely masterpieces and kept me with headphones firmly stuck in my ears. Also, if you have the chance to see him live, don't pass it up because I hear it's truely spectacular.
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on 2 May 2006
Seth Lakeman had been in my consciousness since watching the build up to the Mercury award last year. When I saw his performance I was blown away by the power and his great voice. I was lucky enough to catch Seth play live in support of Billy Bragg over the bank holiday weekend and he was on fine form. Superb live. Sadly he wasn't on long enough but managed to cram in plenty from this album and a cracking rendition of kitty jay.

This album gets it's claws into you from the first play - buy it and enjoy wearing it out as you play it again and again and again. It really is that good. Enjoy.
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