Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman – Personae

Album Review | Iscream Music Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Georges Braque once said of his artistic relationship with Pablo Picasso, that they were like “mountain-climbers roped together” which is in a way reflected in the dramatic Romantic-period cover photo on Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman’s latest album release. Personae, the duo’s fifth album release to date, sees the two musicians similarly bound, not just through their fine music, but in everyday life too, the husband/wife team so completely as one. Much of the material on the album is co-written by the duo, with a couple of traditional song arrangements and the one non-original, Sandy Denny’s memorable “Solo”, familiar to those who were fortunate enough to catch Kathryn recently in the revived Fotheringay, Sandy’s early Seventies folk rock band. There’s one or two surprises here, including the playful “The Poison Club”, which is the duo’s equivalent of the “Magical Mystery Tour” but in reverse; it’s not a club one would be in such a hurry to join. There’s also a couple of familiar guests popping up, firstly Sam Kelly, who duets with Kathryn on the rollicking opener, the traditional “The Knight’s Ghost”, a song with as much drama as the Géricault-like cover shot, and later, brother Seth adds fiddle to “Old, Old, Old”, a song about a Seychelles giant tortoise who lives in the shadow of his own mortality, much longer than most of us have to endure. Kathryn, one of the most cherished voices on the British folk and acoustic music scene is on top form throughout, here roped together once again with her perfect accompanist, whose production is lovingly realised.