Seth Lakeman. Ballads Of The Broken Few. Cooking Vinyl

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On his eighth solo album Seth Lakeman continues to amaze in his questing journey to reinvigorate the UK folk scene. Ballads Of The Broken Few finds this quintessentially English folk musician working with producer Ethan johns, a man one normally associates with our American cousins, for a set of songs that still reek of proud Albion but reach out across the water pulling in Appalachian influences. Throughout the album Lakeman is accompanied by the vocal trio, Wildwood Kin, their harmonies another nod to the transatlantic influences here. Recorded “live” in the “great hall” of a Jacobean Country House the album is for the most part a gloom ridden exploration of death, loss and misery, a twilight album with Lakeman’s sawed fiddle raw and emotive over a funereal beat, a drone somewhat akin to that of Fairport Convention’s version of Flowers of The Forest.

The album opens powerfully with the ethereal voices of Wildwood Kin intoning over a skirled fiddle before Lakeman kicks his drum into service leading into a skewed spiritual of sorts on Willow Tree. Immediately we’re into weird folk territory, Wicker Man witchery but with an affiliation to chain gang spirituals as the beat hammers on. Silence Reigns retains the fiddle drone eschewing the beat, Wildwood Kin’s voices carrying the melody, their voices arching on the middle eight, the whole a mystical meditation equally at home in Appalachia or misty Dartmoor. Several of the songs follow in these footsteps. Stranger weeps for a drowned son, Anna Lee (a song sung by Levon Helm on Dirt Farmer) is a dirt poor lamentation for a mother drowned and Whenever I’m Home has a ringing chorus on the most plaintive of songs.

There is some variety here. Lakeman grabs his guitar for the kenspeckle acoustic folk rock of Meet Me In The Twilight which is leavened by the excellent harmonies from the Kin. Silver Threads is a tentative pizzicato number, the harmonies the highlight here and the propulsive Fading Sound recalls the heady seventies folk rock flight. Aside from his production duties Johns adds some fractured  grungy and slide guitar sounds on the title song, another stomp filled belter which is somewhat bettered by the addition of mandolin to the swampy mix on Innocent Child. Here Lakeman comes across as a traditional folk response to Nick Cave. Indeed if you’re a fan of Cave’s soundtrack work there will be much here that will thrill you.

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No Mean City Americana Festival

September 2013, sees the return of the ‘No Mean City’ Festival in Glasgow, a unique celebration of Americana music. Tipping its hat to the City’s close ties and associations with American roots music and heritage with over 20 artists performing across five of Glasgow’s best loved live music venues including; O2 ABC Glasgow and Òran Mór, Broadcast, Nice N Sleazy, and The Art School.
O2 ABC Glasgow. General Manager, Joe Splain says… “As a City, Glasgow has so much to offer, we’re lucky enough to be immersed in such a plethora of unique musical styles and Americana and new country have really pushed through in recent years. 2012 saw us host our second Festival, joining forces with some of Glasgow’s most popular venues and promoters. It really was a fabulous event, featuring the likes of Patti Smith and Grandaddy on our bill. No Mean City is the perfect addition to the eclectic music scene and this year’s programme has even more to offer, from outstanding internationally acclaimed headliners, to raw, upcoming talent”
‘No Mean City 2013’ will take music fans on a journey through the many sub genres of Americana music with performances from fresh talent including Junip (15th September) who have recently been making waves within the genre, all female alt country group The Be Good Tanyas (5th September) and a highly anticipated performance from American Alt -Rockers Eels (3rd September). ‘No Mean City 2013’ also sees the welcome return of Caitlin Rose (9th September) who played the very first ‘No Mean City’ festival back in 2011 and the month long celebration will come to a combustible end with American Country music legend and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kris Kristofferson (28th September) as he delights fans with a very special UK performance.
The official launch for ‘No Mean City 2013’ will take place at ‘For The Sake Of The Song’ on Friday 31st August, a one-day event at O2 ABC and O2 ABC2 Glasgow and Broadcast.

Friday 31st August: O2 ABC, O2 ABC2 Glasgow and Broadcast
“For The Sake Of The Song” – a one-day event launching ‘No Mean City 2013’

Sunday 1st September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Kat Men + Lou Hickey

Monday 2nd September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Strand Of Oaks + Daniel Norgren

Monday 2nd September: Broadcast
Dawes

Tuesday 3rd September: O2 ABC Glasgow
Eels

Tuesday 3rd September: Broadcast
Daughn Gibson

Wednesday 4th September: Nice N Sleazy
The Barr Brothers

Wednesday 4th September: Oran Mor
The Milk Carton Kids

Thursday 5th September: O2 ABC Glasgow
The Be Good Tanyas

Thursday 5th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
King King

Monday 9th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Caitlin Rose

Thursday 12th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Heartless Bastards

Sunday 15th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Junip

Monday 16th September: Oran Mor
Jim White

Tuesday 17th September: Broadcast
Joe Pug

Thursday 19th September: Broadcast
Laetitia Sadier
Friday 20th September: Oran Mor
Johnny Reid

Sunday 22nd September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Raintown + Ash Before Oaks

Wednesday 25th September: The Art School
Stephen Kellogg

Friday 27th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Ethan Johns / Zervas & Pepper

Saturday 28th September: O2 ABC Glasgow
Kris Kristofferson

For full listings and details visit http://www.nomeancity.co.uk