Album review: KATHRYN ROBERTS & SEAN LAKEMAN – Personae

KATHRYN ROBERTS & SEAN LAKEMAN - Personae

IScream Records [Release date 09.03.18]

Husband and wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have been recording and performing for over two decades, during which time they have won twice Best Duo at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Their latest album ‘Personae’, is a mix of self-penned songs and traditional songs given the Roberts/Lakeman musical makeover, plus a cover of Sandy Denny’s ‘Solo’.

Sam Kelly guests on the opening song ‘The Knight’s Ghost’, a traditional lyric with the musical arrangement by Roberts and Lakeman. ‘Independence’ is a beautifully written and performed song about the relationship between a parent and child.

Roberts’ vocals are reminiscent of Kate Bush and the piano and guitar weave in and out of the vocals to great effect. ‘Tribute Of Hands’ is a jaunty tune, whilst ‘Old, Old, Old’ is a jolly song based on Jonathan, a giant tortoise thought to be the world’s oldest living land animal. Sean’s brother Seth guests on fiddle on this one.

The cover of Sandy Denny’s ‘Solo’ is simply sublime and connects the dots musically as Kathyrn Roberts appeared in the Fotheringay reunion shows in 2015, the band which was formed by Sandy Denny. Interestingly the version on here sounds less folk than Fish’s cover on his ‘Songs From The Mirror’ album. Both versions are a fine testament to Denny’s song writing talent.

Listening to ‘Personae’ you can see why Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman win the awards they have and with this album I wouldn’t be surprised if they win more awards. An accomplished album which is a delight to listen from start to finish.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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