Equation in 1998
place of origin:
highyl original, sophisticated blend of traditional Celtic and progressive alternative folk rock
Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, June Tabor, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Bragg, 10,000 Maniacs
Hazy Daze (1998)
Lucky Few (2000)
Seth Lakeman (violin, vocals, mandolin); Sean Lakeman (guitars); Kathryn Roberts (vocals, piano); Darren Edwards (bass guitar); Iain Goodall (drums, percussion); James Crocker (electric guitar)
Equation is the most interesting thing to pop up in the last two years. Armed with an in-depth knowldege of celtic folk music and a deep seeded Fairport Convention influence, they're no doubt making some of the most consuming crossover folk sounds today. They've been compared to everything from Fairport to 10,000 Maniacs to Fleetwood Mac, and certainly it would be no surprise should this independant European group achieve such status in their career. The band's sound is centered around a musical partnership between brothers Seth Lakeman and Sean Lakeman, songwriters and classically trained players with a long history in the British folk scene. Sean's whistful, folkish acoustic guitar and Seth's energetic, commanding violins provide a supple, yet solid atmosphere for Kathryn Roberts beautiful, drifting vocals, delivered over a flexible rock beat. Lyrics tend to be on the ambiant, jaunting side, yet nearly always relaying some vague story or tale, complete with conflicting, lighthearted or troubled characters. Equation's music feels like a walk through woodlands near a quiant, 17th century English village by a waterfall under a warm, summer sky.
Seth and Sean Lakeman began playing together as young children, and before leaving school they released an album called 3 Piece Suit. They met Yoskshire born Kathryn Roberts several years later. As a young girl Kathryn had studied the fluit and clarinet. But by now she was focused entirely on singing, and had even won the coveted BBC Radio's "Young Tradition Award". As a trio the three began performing as Equation, and were quickly spotted by Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis, who describes them as "quite outstanding". The band signed an international contract with Blanco Y Negro and added studio musicians Darren Edwards (bass) and Iain Goodall (drums) as full-time members.
The band's debut album, Hazy Daze, appeared on WEA in Europe in 1998 (it would be released to an American audience the following year on Putumayo), much to wide acclaim and eager acceptance from the alternative folk rock world. Produced by Paul Barrett, it was a superb collection of beautiful, solid melodies against the band's unique blend of folk and pop music, made brilliant by Kathryn's astounding, subtle, yet powerful voice. Already James Crocker had joined the band as electric guitarist so Sean could concentrate entirely on acoustic, but he would not appear on an album by the band until 1999.
The new Equation record appeared in Europe in 1999 on Travis' Blackburst label. Putumayo would make it available to the states in 2000. The album was co-produced by British producer James Brown (The Genies/Neil Finn) and 70's legend John Wood (Fairport Convention/Nick Drake). By now Equation was one of the top underground band's in the world, and began their first international tour. Plans are already being made to release early Equation recordings on Blackburst as Return to Me. This is clearly one of the most promising new bands currently operating. Future releases will be followed with great interest.