KATHRYN ROBERTS & SEAN LAKEMAN, LITTLE SPARROW
Burnley Mechanics, 21 May 2015
After a spell when their work as a duo went on the backburner, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have spent the last couple of years catching up – with a vengeance. Folk awards, albums and tours over the past three years have seen their star and their stock rise into the folk ascendency. LTW’s Mike Ainscoe catches up with them on one of their jaunts from deepest Dartmoor.
It wasn’t only the Roberts/Lakeman combo making a trip north but also the evening’s support slot being bagged by Little Sparrow; similarly heading slightly further afield from the Manchester circuit where she’s become a familiar face with a growing reputation. Often performing with variations on a band, tonight saw her solo, simply armed with acoustic guitar and a set of songs from her soon to be re-launched ‘Wishing Tree’ album. Not to mention a new song thrown in for good measure – a clear case of intent and of ever onward.
Her gently picked guitar and soft yet confident, at times, powerful vocal often drifting into the ethereal, the experience and opportunity to open for a recognised element of the folk scene will have done no harm at all.
With the initial run of the ‘Tomorrow Will Follow Today’ album promo tour done, Kathryn and Sean are now into another run of ostensibly lower key dates, the usual smattering of summer festivals and a Scottish tour which runs well into October. Low key in terms of keeping what might be termed ‘gig fit’ and a more relaxed approach to promotion now the album has had its initial surge – check out the LTW review here.
Low key too in what Sean termed “a bit relaxed and ramshackle” although to describe anything they do as ramshackle would do them a severe injustice. For one thing, the show sees him doing more (and more) of the between song chat. Maybe a result of a dose of the lurgy which didn’t seem to affect Kathryn’s vocals or maybe an indication of his growing self-assurance as more than a guitar player (cum songwriter/producer) in the partnership.
The stories punctuating the songs not only reference their personal lives and inspirations but are starting to rival some of the lively and notorious banter of The Young’Uns; too numerous to mention here, suffice to say the one which ended with the “have you brought your son out?” punchline being a belter, gave the evening the friendly and intimate vibe of a folk club. Singing songs full of fascinating characters and their adaptations of traditional folk songs, many packed with audacious overtones and good old barely disguised lewdness – and all the better for it. There are songs based on contemporary themes, the recent political machinations getting a high profile alongside some more of Sean’s observations – you had to be there. ‘Tomorrow Will Follow Today’ has never seemed more apt.
When they sing about ‘The Wisdom Of Standing Still’ – a reflection of their unhurried day to day existence – it could almost be an advert for the Devon Tourist Board, yet at the same time it also signifies a philosophy which underpins the Roberts/Lakeman approach to keeping calm and carry on doing what they do well.
You can find Kathryn & Sean online here:
Twitter : @kathryn_sean