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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 2 April 2012
After a seemingly sour ending fling with the big corporate music nasties which resulted in the lacklustre and soulless Hearts and Minds (it is telling that the last time I saw Seth live there was no H&M song on the set list), Seth returns to his roots and records this fine album in the barrel house at Morwellham Quay, Devon.

With this record and the masterful Freedom Fields, Seth has established himself as a dab hand at the concept album; the lifeblood of this one being the stories of craftsmen miners and artisans of times passed. There are not many dumb notes on the record, but some tracks are stronger than others. The first two, More Than Money and Blacksmith's Prayer are probably the most effective, along with The Artisan, which bookends the album. These tracks in particular are the most powerful, with Blacksmith's Prayer very effectively evoking the atmosphere of old English working, with its strange percussion and little ghostly sounds. In fact, the lyrics here are as strong as the brilliant Solomon Brown or Fight for Favour. Although verging on twee, Apple of his Eye is another lovely track with some very tidy and quite innovative arrangements which are very welcome.

Criticisms are few and far, but I found the violin lines running through or over every song a bit intrusive at times. On some songs, like The Sender or Apple, they are subtle, but some are quite heavy, like on the otherwise strong Watchmaker's Rhyme. It would have been nice to hear the claustrophobic banjo picking of a mineshaft recorded More Than Money without the violin addition, for example. And there is the odd cliche lyric in there, but these are minor quibbles that do not take much away from a very well made and pleasing album from a back in form Seth. Nice packaging too from the guys at Proper.
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VINE VOICEon 9 April 2012
Like the other reviewer, I too found Seth's last album a tad lacklustre and I too have found 'Tales from the Barrel House' a return to form of sorts,although still coming up short when set against-for me anyway-Seth's best album-Freedom Fields.
There is a dark and sombre vibe going on here; reflected perhaps by the dark and moody image on the CD cover. Apparently TFTBH is a total one man band effort with Seth composing and playing every instrument. Not a problem perhaps for such a virtuoso musician but impressive in showing his total committment to the project.
Recorded at Morwellan Quay which TV viewers in the UK will recognize from the BBC2 series -Edwardian Farm. A 12 month televised experiment in living life as it was lived one hundred years ago in a community that was easier to access by boat from the sea than by land. Morwellan is on the beautiful River Tamar which seperates Devon-Seth's home county and perhaps the most English of counties- from the ancient Celtic region of Cornwall. That melancholic celtic air is reflected in the compositions. A slow burner which oozes quality with each listen.
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on 7 June 2012
I've long admired the chutzpah of The Lakeman Brothers and in particular Seth for his go-ahead attitude to the music business. Self-belief in one's creative direction is no bad thing and in respect of this he must now be truly titled a `folk' hero for those that have followed him from his early career. He is now a fully paid-up member of the `cottage industry' process with not only singer/songwriter under his belt but multi-instrumentalist, producer, mixer and record company director to his credit. Whatever next...Simon Cowell's chair on the X-Factor? Drawing many influences from his colourful West Country background the songs he relates may be rooted in the traditional idiom but are given the driving passion (particularly with his attention to detail in the lyrics) of a young man more comfortable in the twentieth century. Like Barry Dransfield before him his passion in allowing his double-stopped fiddle bow to be submitted to the indignity of winding-up looking more like Miss Whiplash's cat of nine tails at the end of a particularly energetic session shows just how much energy he can expel. An advocate of really `having something to say' whether it be the decline of traditional crafts ("Blacksmith's Prayer") or the demise of tin and copper factory workers in "Hard Road" the term `Voice Of The People' could not be more justified.

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The British folk movement is really in ascendancy at the moment, pushed along by luminaries such as Spiers and Boden, The Imagined Village and, of course, Seth Lakeman.

Lakeman's solo career recently saw him move into the clutches of big corporate music companies, and resulted in Hearts and Minds, a curiously soulless album that was clearly aimed at larger commercial success away from the niche beardy folky market. I cannot begrudge him the chance at fame and fortune, but I have to say I found the album a little uninspiring and was determined not to buy any more if he continued along the same route. It was with great pleasure then that I read reviews which suggested that for his next release Lakeman has stepped away from this path and gone back to basics. Having now listened several times I am pleased to report that the reviews are correct, and that this is Lakeman back at his heartfelt impressive best.

It's a classic piece of music making. With a stripped back band and a set of songs that celebrate craftsmen and their traditions (most of which are now dying out and are nothing more than a fond folk memory) Lakeman has produced a series of really heartfelt tracks that tell stories and draw you along. It's well paced and programmed to provide an album with variations in tone and pace that keeps you listening. Not as frenetic as some of his earlier work, it is quietly understated and all the more powerful for it.

Included in the 2 disc set is a short DVD with live versions of several of the songs. IT's an excellent set, and with 2 discs it's also excellent value for money! 5 stars for this impressive return to form for Lakeman
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on 16 September 2012
As usual Seth has created an album full of haunting melodies and whilst not as commercial as some previous will still appeal to folk lovers. The accompanying DVD is a bonus and fascinating to see how it was produced.
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on 7 December 2012
Seen Seth Lakeman lots of time live & always sounds amazing. However this is rather disappointing & lacklustre. I've played this several time now to try to get onto it, but it just lacks that excitement that he generates live. The songs are fine & the playnig is as good as on previous albums. I'm sure that fans will enjoy this, but if you are new to Seth Lakeman try Freedom Fields which I think is closer to his live sound & every track is a winner.
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on 11 April 2013
after the more rocky last couple of albums Lakeman switches back to a more acoustic an folky mode with great results. Micxture of traditional and self penned numbers is a good fit
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on 28 April 2012
An excellent album that was complimented by using the unusual additions such as tools, anvils etc, which enhanced the traditional instrumentation, this along with superb lyrics makes it a beautiful consept cd, bring it on!
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on 17 March 2013
I love Seth Lakeman's work and this one didn't disappoint me. He played all the instruments on this CD, from a hammer and anvil to conventional instruments. He chose the theme of historic trades that are dying out and even recorded one track in the deepest mines of the ore miners. I've got all his CDs and you can tell his music and songs are developing with time. I love songs that tell a story so I can't wait to see what his new creations will be in his next album comes out. They are good CDs to play whilst driving!
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on 21 April 2012
An excellent album from a champion folk artist - I enjoyed every song (how many albums can you honestly say that about) and every story they created. Watching a number of these and Seth's older songs performed live is always a pleasure and the performance consistently improves. The tweaks added to the live performances takes all his music to another level. I'm just curious when "The Best Of..." Album is going to be headed our way. It'll be a tough choice now, but carry on at this rate and we'll be looking at a triple CD collection.
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