This review was originally published by Get Ready To Rock here
The latest album from folk singer Seth Lakeman marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower setting sail from Plymouth for north America. While A Pilgrim’s Tale showcases his distinctive vocal style and delivery precisely as his fans have come to love and expect, this is more than simply another Seth Lakeman album though. Comprising twelve songs that seek to tell the story of the Mayflower, the album is narrated by Dr Who actor, Paul McGann, and features a stellar cast of some of the leading lights in the contemporary folk world: Cara Dillon, Benji Kirkpatrick, Ben Nicholls et al.
“I didn’t have to go far for inspiration,” contends the Devon-based folk singer. “The Mayflower’s steps on Plymouth’s cobbled streets are twenty minutes away from me.”
Lyrically, Lakeman paints some vivid pictures for the listener and the songs come from a variety of perspectives. It doesn’t attempt to gloss over the brutality of this early adventure in colonialism. It deals with death, brutality and tragedy experienced by both sides but also examines the religious motivations of the pilgrims and their initial sense of optimism as they set sail as well as their trials and tribulations en route. As well as seeking to explore the perspectives of the pilgrims, however, Lakeman also attempts to look at things from the point of view of the indigenous Wampanoag tribespeople. Indeed, Lakeman visited Massachusetts to gain insights from the Wampanoag descendants who still live in the area.
A highly controversial chapter in both British and American history, Lakeman handles it with both sensitivity and creativity and the result is a fascinating and highly listenable album.
Released by BMG 7/2/20
Seth Lakeman at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill 2019
Seth Lakeman at Folk by the Oak 2014