REVIEW: Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman at The Fishpond, Matlock

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By Ed Sills

It’s Friday night in Matlock Bath and the streets are quiet. Mist hangs high in the hillside and rain pours down. Upstairs, in the bohemian styled ballroom, a large crowd wait to be enchanted.

And enchanted they are as two of the biggest names in the British Folk scene, Sean Lakeman (Guitar) and Katheryn Roberts (Vocals/Piano/Woodwind) continue their unstoppable return with a set that leaned heavily on their recently released album ‘Tomorrow Will Follow Today’.Sean, a seasoned player and producer with scores of albums under his belt, began the night with bluesy ‘Child Owlet’ and consistently showed off his skill as the duo switched between traditional and modern folk songs. Singing their take on the Slavic myth ‘Rusalka’, Katheryn’s sultry, smoky vocals were every bit as bewitching as the mythical red hair water nymph. More successful was the similarly themed yet equally enthralling ‘Huldra’. Unaccompanied by Lakeman, the stark echo of her voice held in the space of the room like the aforementioned mist above the building.

It was a set full of April songs of love and lust. From galloping Tudor tale ‘The Banishing Book’ to 17th Century ‘The Lusty Smith’ the duo know how to squeeze every last drop of eye winking innuendo from these traditional folk songs. And the chemistry between the two on stage is palpable. Nevermore so than when they played ‘Money or Jewels’ from their last album Hidden People. A tale about a young couple that meet at the spring fair, the young man struggles to keep his wife in finery and as you’d expect, as with most folk tales, things then take a turn for the worst. Joking on their relationship Sean cheekily noted that they were only in the first week of a five week tour and that ‘there’s still time’ for the sparks to fly.

When they wanted to they could be edgier, rousing ‘Down, Dog!’ tells a sweet morality tale of how an earnest politician can lose his way, whilst ‘The Ballad of Andy Jacobs’ drew from Robert’s experiences of the 1980’s miners strikes. Summing up the sentiment of disenfranchised voters, the duo took aim at our politicians with foot stomper ‘Tomorrow Will Follow Today’ - for me the standout track of the night - in which Lakeman lamented that for most living on Dartmoor (where he was raised) life will be much the same as ever after May 4th.

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman are currently on tour and new their new album Tomorrow Will Follow Today is out now.