There’s no arguing with the title of the latest album from Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman.
Tomorrow Will Follow Today, hailed as their boldest musical statement to date, is the new recording from the husband-and-wife performers who were voted Best Duo in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2013.
“But I suppose for us, the song has picked up a couple of different meanings along the way,” Kathryn says. “Firstly, I suppose, it’s that we have been doing this now for so long. Sean and I have worked on the folk scene for more than 20 years, so the title is almost like the idea that ‘Yes, we are still going to be around tomorrow. We are in it for the long haul!’ But the title actually came from reading old books of folk songs from around the time of the Industrial Revolution. I was reading these songs, and I was thinking that nothing much had changed. A lot of the issues and the complaints are the same as they would be now, things like poverty and children not eating enough, people being out of work, things like teachers being forced to strike. I was thinking ‘My god! It could be written about something right now!’ And that thought just turned it into a kind of protest song in a way.
“I am not just speaking about our government, but it seems that a lot of governments have got into the position where they are quite happy to keep pushing and pushing to see what they can get away with. And people won’t tear themselves away from Facebook. They will just let them get away with it. There is a lot of apathy. I don’t know about your part of the country, but you would just never know there was a general election so close where we are. Nothing is happening!”
The duo play Komedia, Brighton on Thursday, April 16 at 8pm (0845 2938480) on the back of the album.
“There are eight of our own compositions on there, and we have also got two traditional songs. Our own songs are quite varied subject-wise. We never set out to think of a theme for an album. That’s not how we work. We have got a song on there about wicked Russian mermaids, and we have got a song about a whale that is swimming around. We have got a song that dates back to Tudor times that was a bit too smutty. It was a little bit too ripe. I had to tone it down a bit. The best ones are the ones that are a nod and a wink and a raised eyebrow!
“It wasn’t a case of having to have traditional songs on there. The songs are part of our live set. That always works out well. We just do the songs we have been playing when it comes to recording. This time we have had the luxury of road-testing a lot of the songs just to really gauge what people like the best. One of our main things with a song, whether it is traditional or self-penned, is that it tells a story. If you can take the story out of the song context and write it down and it works as a story, that’s the kind of thing we like.”
Another song is effectively advice to their seven-year-old daughters, A Song To Live By. “We are really lucky. They go to a lovely village school, but sometimes one of them might come home a little bit unhappy because they didn’t get to give out the fruit or because someone jumped in front of them at lunchtime. It’s a song about the kinds of thing I would like to say...”