Probably the coolest lad in folk, Seth Lakeman returns to Towersey Festival for more of his trademark foot-stomping, fiddle bow-shredding flights of fancy.

The Devon troubadour arrives hot on the heels of his show at a stormy Cropredy Festival, near Banbury, earlier this month, and in the wake of his ninth studio album, The Well Worn Path.

Released last autumn, it’s a return to a no-nonsense, organic, classic folk-rock approach with hints of Fairport Convention, Neil Young, Nick Cave and Billy Bragg – plus Seth’s trademark frenzied fiddling and soaring vocals.

Since the Mercury Prize 2005-nominated Kitty Jay, the follow-up gold-selling Freedom Fields, and his last, highly acclaimed offering, Word Of Mouth, Seth has relentlessly pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music.

Away from his solo career, he’s spent the last few years touring and recording as a member of Led Zeppelin star Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters to great acclaim.

He arrives at Towersey with a new line-up featuring Kit Hawes on electric guitar, Evan Jenkins on drums and Ben Nicholls on double-bass.

“It’s a really exciting outfit,” says Seth. “It’s really evolving and growing quite naturally; it’s exciting. It’s quite different to what people will have heard from us before – it is a new direction.”

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That new direction was partly inspired by his time with Plant.

“The touring with Mr Robert Plan has undoubtedly affected my perception of music,” he laughs.

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“I was on tour for almost two years, which was a long stint. But I didn’t write Well Worn Path thinking I was going to move things into a more rocky, driving sound … it’s just naturally happened, just the way I wrote a body of songs.

“It’s definitely the relationship between me and Kit – there’s something quite special happened between me and him. Sometimes in music you can’t quite put your finger on it, but there’s really an exciting connection there, in the music, and that’s really where the roots of this Well Worn Path sound come from.”

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He adds: “But undoubtedly the Robert connection and constant touring with a man like that, and working with The Sensational Space Shifters, has certainly lifted up the volume, you could say!

“He’s been doing some far off, and far out, travelling, but otherwise the record’s written for next year, and I’m always writing so it’s be really interesting to just travel around and see what you come up with, absorb things as you go.”

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Does he see himself continuing down the same Well Worn …path for his next record?

“It’s interesting,” he says. “I’ve actually just finished another record. This is all about the Mayflower Story, the Pilgrim Fathers, as the 400th anniversary is coming up next year – they left in 1620. So it will be a big big thing in Plymouth, all over the country, and all the world, places like Holland, and Massachusetts, obviously

“I’ve written an album to celebrate their story. I was actually out there, in America, last year visiting the tribe, the Wampanoag community, who had a close relationship with the Pilgrim Fathers, talking to them about ideas.

“I’ve been talking to the Boston library as well. The songs are quite traditional, hymnal as well - touching on the religious side – but it’s very different to Well Worn Path”

He adds: “I think we will keep this going, though, because it’s really exciting and it’s a sound. I’m really enjoying it as a songwriter.”

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The Pilgrims Tale will feature Cara Dillion, Benji Kirkpatrick and Ben Nicholls and will be followed by another tour.

Will he be airing any of the new songs at Towersey? “We could!” he laughs. “But I almost don’t want to give the game away. Because it’s a narrative, a story, you can’t just take one song out. So I’m not sure. I think I’ll probably just wait, not give the game away and leave it for the tour next year.”

  • Seth Lakeman plays Towersey Festival, at Thame Showground, on Sunday. Details from