SETH Lakeman was running late for his morning interview.
"Sorry, I was out for a jog when you called," he said, when What's On rang again. How was it, Seth? "It was very wet this morning."
Lakeman enjoys his runs from his Dartmoor home. "I guess it's a couple of times a week I do it, me and the dog and a beautiful lake beside us," he says.
What did the rest of the day hold in store? "I'm working on something with Robert Plant at Real World studios, going through some stuff with him for his Strange Sensation band project," Seth replies in a delightfully matter-of-fact manner.
"This'll be the first time I'll have worked with him and I'm a massive fan. It's an album project – I'll be playing viola – but I wouldn't say no to playing live with him."
More immediately, Saturday in fact, the West Country folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist will be playing live at Pocklington Arts Centre: a welcome Yorkshire date after his November and December tour in support of last September's Ballads Of The Broken Few failed to breach the Broad Acres.
That album, his eighth studio set, found Lakeman working with the young harmony singers Wildwood Kin – Devon sisters Emillie and Beth Key and their cousin Meghann Loney – but Saturday's gig will be solo. "It's a whole different perspective to what I'm doing; 30 per cent of the show is different and totally new material," he says. "This way of playing gives you freedom, especially because you can tell stories more than you can with a band there.
In harmony: Seth Lakeman and Wildwood Kin
"This is a more intimate show, so your personality comes out more. You're not as worried about getting the audience on their feet, and as they're sitting there you can talk to them about the songs."
Lakeman may well perform Finger Of Blame, his new composition commenting on the political state of the world. "It's a response to what happened in 2016 and the uncertainty that seems to have grown around the world about the future," he says. "It's pointing the finger [of blame] but not necessarily in one place.
"I might do some more stuff on that but you have to be a brave man to write about politics. Maybe you have to be a 'ranter', like Billy Bragg, but you can't force it. You really have to want to say it."
For all the troughs and more troughs of 2016, it was nevertheless a memorable musical year for Seth Lakeman with the release of Ballads Of The Broken Few, an album made not only with Wildwood Kin but also with esteemed producer Ethan Johns, who had worked previously with Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Ryan Adams, Kings Of Leon, Laura Marling and The Staves.
"I just sent him a rough demo of myself and Wildwood Kin demoing one song, recorded on a mobile phone, and he responded straightaway, which was a big moment for me. That was a year and a half ago and we then had to find space in his diary as he has so much going on," Seth recalls.
"We managed to record everything in four days in the Great Hall of this Jacobean manor house in Somerset, with few overdubs and some percussion added later, so it's a raw, rootsy album, challenging but a wonderful connection of sounds, with my mournful viola and Wildwood Kin's ghostly, tight harmonies responding to my gritty, story-led vocals. The two just seemed to work incredibly well together."
Lakeman is now working on "all sorts of things", not least writing for the Mayflower 400 celebration in 2020 that will take place in Plymouth, Devon, and Plymouth, Massachusetts: a new work in pilgrims' progress, as it were.
Seth Lakeman plays Pocklington Arts Centre on Saturday, 8pm. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk