Hearts & Minds [Limited Edition] CD+DVD, Box set
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Ever since his Mercury Prize nomination for Kitty JayM in 2005, Seth Lakeman has cut a striking figure in conventional folk circles. Loved by traditionalists for his characterful voice and mastery of the fiddle, banjo and viola, his ear for pop melodies–and his good looks–have also won him a faithful wider audience. Five albums into his career, Hearts and Minds follows the lead of 2008's Poor Man's Heaven, which introduced rockier rhythms and pace to his music. But now he has gone even further–so much so that he now hardly sounds like a folk artist at all.
The title-track begins the album with a bang. Fierce, heavy drums and a thick, dirty bassline – played by a barely recognisable, growling violin–drives its head-banging beat. Lakeman tells us to "rise up" and feel the "weight of the government's hands", with his protest sounding much more like the work of Muse than Ewan MacColl. "The Watchmen" is a hymn to escapism full of "come ons" and "yeah yeah yeahs", while "Tender Traveller" builds cacophonies of double-stopped strings and struck banjos, as Lakeman sings about "choking" and things "closing in". His statements about Hard Working Men and Preacher's Ghosts can sound heavy-handed, and not unlike the songs of Mumford & Sons. Nonetheless, the way in which acoustic instruments are used to create intensity is very impressive, with the production work of Tchad Blake (whose credits include Tom Waits, Crowded House and Elvis Costello) deserving of praise.
Lakeman's songs are better when they are simpler and gentler, however. "Tiny World"'s lovely lyrics about a girl he's left behind for seven years–with "a full heart and a heavy breeze"–lead beautifully into a chorus which is warm, yet anthemic. "Stepping Over You" shows how moving his playing can be when it is given space to shimmer, while "Changes" uses pizzicato and col legno effects–plucked strings and bows being struck against the wood of an instrument–to create fascinating yet accessible and very lively textures. If Lakeman truly wants to be entertaining and innovative in the future, he would do well to follow this path, rather than revel in rocky rowdiness that will soon tire of clamour.--Jude Rogers
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Top Customer Reviews
What I liked about Seth Lakeman was the evocative lyrics and tunes routed in folk tradition. When I hear songs like Bold Knight, Kitty Jay, Lady of the Sea, I'll Haunt You, The Hurlers I get wonderful pictures in my head. The songs on Hearts and Minds just don't grab me in the same way.
Hearts and Minds feels like sub-Billy Bragg whinging but with violins and mandolins. On previous albums I have been singing along by the second hearing, a week into this one and I can't even hum a single tune.
In my opinion the album is also over-produced and over-orchestrated, lacking the rawness of previous efforts.
In conclusion I hope this is an experimental aberration and not a change of direction for Seth Lakeman.
On the same day I bought Peter Bradley Adams "Traces". Currently I am preferring that.
Already have his albums “Poor Man’s Heaven” and “Kitty Jay”.
I really liked it so I went to see if Amazon had the CD, they did so I bought that along with a couple of his others. :-)
I love the way he composes and how a lot of his songs are about the Southwest. :-)
If you were to ask me if I’d any favourites I’d have to say yes, it’s the entire CD. :-)
Personally I love this this CD and it’s a must for all Seth Lakeman fans. :-)
The album opens with a couple of more traditional Lakeman numbers - both 'Hearts and Minds' and 'The Watchman' offer nothing new or surprising. However from 'Tiny World' onwards, the music begins to unfold, showing subtle textures and offering welcome twists with surprising regularity. From the melodic layers of 'Spinning Days' and jazzy inflections of 'Changes' through to the album's epic closer 'The Circle Grows' (John Martyn anyone?) , this is the unmistakable sound of a young artist growing in both confidence and songwriting ability.
Ther fact that Lakeman manages all of this whilst still staying true to his roots is testament to his enduring talent, both as a performer and songwriter. Without doubt this is an album which bears repeated listening - offering up something new every time. A new and welcome direction then, but more of the same great modern folk music. Outstanding effort.
( I do not understand why people take the time to write bad reviews. OK, if you can make better music yourself then fine. But why whine about your disappointment. Just pass the cd on to someone else who might like it and remember that musicians are people, that music takes a long time to craft, that artists grow and change and develope, and that negativity can bring a heart down.)
I look forward to hearing what comes next from Seth Lakeman, and long to hear him really let rip with that wild devil's violin of his.Hearts & Minds
In his first four albums he has moved further from his initially trademark raw, driving, folk sound bringing added and depth to the music. Poor Man's Heaven, the predecessor to this album, is perhaps his finest effort to date, being a classic mix of raw folk roots with poppier overtones.
Here however, I feel he has travelled a little too far. The album opens well enough with the driving drums of Hearts and Minds, with a suitable angry, energised edge to it. But then the album drifts a little. The songwriting and musicianship is good, but the production feels a bit too lush and overdone, robbing the album of its passion and the power to grab the attention of the listener. It's good stuff, don't get me wrong, but in comparison to the five star albums that preceded it, it's not good enough. Four stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Devon born folkie Seth Lakeman's fifth album 'Heart & Minds', released in 2010, was a commercial success, but it's one which seems to divide his fans. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Brit Boy
One of my favourites, have been following Seth since he split up from Cara Dillon.Published 19 months ago by R. Bryne