Kerry Meech 10/08/2006
It's that time of year again when music critics and fans alike become immersed in heated debates regarding who should win the Mercury Music Prize. Over the past 14 years big names such as U2, Radiohead, PJ Harvey and erm, M People have received recognition for their albums however, what makes the Mercury Prize 'controversial' is its ability to propel lesser known artists into the spotlight, cue Devonian Seth Lakeman.
Since last year's Mercury nomination Lakeman has been pushed to the forefront of the folk community, mesmerising listeners with his songs depicting the wild untamed nature of Dartmoor. His appearance today in East Devon marked the release of his first single 'Lady of the Sea', a catchy violin-led track which has the potential to chart within the top 40. In fact if Lakeman continues to draw large crowds to the rest of his in-store appearances he could well enter the chart just on the sales from his appearances alone; such was the enthusiasm of his fans, some even travelled from London just to see him perform 3 songs.
His stripped down, unplugged performance of the 3 tracks, 'King and Country', 'Lady of the Sea' and 'Send Yourself Away', showcased not only his voice but his sublime violin playing, and skills with a tenor guitar which carried the joyous 'Lady of the Sea' and unrelenting 'Send Yourself Away', which he cheekily adds is available to buy at the end of the month. Such is the charisma of Lakeman that intrigued passers-by found themselves queuing at the end of his short set to purchase signed 7” singles.
It would seem that Lakeman is subconsciously bridging the gap between the mainstream pop culture and folk scene, not by compromising his music in any way (many of his lyrics derive from folklore), but by creating great tunes which harbour pop sensibilities, yet remain in their essence folk songs. It's his talent as a songwriter which will ensure Lakeman is remembered for something more than just his Mercury nomination. Now where did I leave my Ladbrokes slip for Thom Yorke to win?