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Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - Hidden People (Navigator)

Star rating: 
4

Before the convenience of online shopping and instant music downloads, it would take something special for me to drop everything and drive the twenty miles to Sheffield specifically to buy a record, knowing that my town would not have such an item in stock. Such was the situation back in 1995 when Jim Lloyd played a song from the Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts album on his Folk on 2 radio programme. The voices of these two women was enough for me to drop everything and race over to Meadowhell in order to buy the cd. Then there was the added bonus of discovering that these two heavenly voices were produced by two heavenly creatures, which I discovered as the item was being handed over to me; something to brighten up the dreary looking folk cds on the shelf. The revelations didn't stop there though. There was a further bonus, a veritable cherry on top of the cake, when I found that these singers were both from just up the road from me.

An astonishing seventeen years has gone by in a flash with various marriages, a few children and the odd supergroup together with one or two unprecidented success stories, especially when it comes to folk music. Whilst one of the Kate's garnered worldwide acknowledgement as the sweetheart of the British folk music scene and as The Equation ran its course, playing extensively throughout the world and especially across the pond, Kathryn Roberts sidled out of the limelight momentarily in order to raise her family and has since waited patiently for that moment to take her meaningful place in the hearts and minds of this music scene we all love and cherish. That moment is here at last.

With husband/producer/guitarist Sean Lakeman by her side, Kathryn takes centre stage in order to deliver the sort of beautiful music we were all perfectly aware she had stored away somewhere, just waiting to burst out at the most convenient moment. With Sean affording himself some time out of his heavy touring commitments in brother Seth's band and with two beautiful floral-named twins allowing mummy a little time to return to the studio in order to do the sort of stuff she was born to do, HIDDEN PEOPLE comes along to deliver the goods on cue.

With song themes ranging from seductive Swedish forest creatures in the opening song Huldra to some woman-scorned-type vengefulness in the uplifting pop-styled Hang the Rowan, which will no doubt have you dancing around the living room, we must also be prepared to be struck silent with the utterly gorgeous The Ballad of Andy Jacobs, which focuses on the turmoil that young people are forced to endure during industrial disputes and the tribulations of love tested in difficult times. Beautiful. Go on, I challenge you to sit through that one without shedding a tear or two.

Reuniting with former Equation members Cara Dillon and husband Sam Lakeman, together with Seth himself, the album is packed with strong family connections. With further contributions from Leveller's frontman Mark Chadwick, Dave Burland, Megson's Stu Hannah, Jim Moray, Austin-based singer-songwriter Caroline Herring and one third of Swedish sibling trio Baskery, Greta Bondesson, HIDDEN PEOPLE is one of those delightful records that leaps onto the player and will no doubt stick around for a long while.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky