Album Review: The Lake Poets – Honest Hearts EP

By on Friday, 20th June 2014 at 12:00 pm

Singer/songwriter Martin Longstaff uses the plural stage moniker The Lake Poets, though his artistic efforts seem to be of the singular variety. Presumably taking his name from the group of 19th century English Romantic poets, Longstaff has written lyrics with a distinctly poetic bent on his debut EP ‘Honest Hearts’, where his beautiful singing and multi-instrumental talents serve to accentuate the reflective and delicate imagery.

The EP opens with darkly mysterious track ‘Windowsill’, an intimate entreaty to explore uncertain, even frightening possibilities. Longstaff’s light, lilting singing voice explores its full range of dynamics on the repeated refrain, “You’re watching the world from your windowsill / You’re trying to figure it out / There’s so much world past your windowsill / But you’ve got your fears and your doubts”.

Despite its description on The Lake Poets’ Soundcloud page as “a song about going through hell, and keeping going”, the title track ‘Honest Hearts’ is warmer and brighter, with the twang of pedal steel and dulcimer. The layered vocals on its chorus “You can take my body, but you will never get my soul” grow into an expansive bridge section before pulling back to a more introspective ending. ‘Dead Horses’ has a more bluesy country sound, with aching falsetto vocals and gritty electric guitars. Once again, Longstaff expands on his own haunting refrain, “How do you fix a lost and broken lonely life?”, his voice gentle at first, then building in strength leading into the dramatic instrumental section.

Longstaff’s exquisite vocals take center stage on ‘Husks’, arranged simply for piano and voice. The keyboard melody is elegantly poignant as Longstaff sings his Romantic analogy for a past relationship, “Is there a sadder sight than a dead tree in a field / A shadow of what it used to be / Like a husk it stands lifeless in the breeze surrounded by twisted dead debris”. His graceful and delicate vocals are perfectly executed here; my breath caught in my throat as I listened to him intone the final melancholy line.

The EP closes with a brief reprise of the main musical ideas from ‘Windowsill’, extending the overall lingering effect of this collection of songs. The simple and direct nature of Longstaff’s songwriting allows his lithely flowing vocals and instrumental interludes to echo in the dynamic space he creates. ‘Honest Hearts’ is a skillful and sensitive debut effort from a musician who clearly has a wealth of potential options for artistic growth.


‘Honest Hearts’ is out now via Generator. A stream of the EP can be found in our earlier feature here but only for a limited time. Also check out below this stunning video clip for the Lake Poets track ‘Edinburgh’.

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[…] a mixture of songs from the highly rated Honest Hearts EP, given an 8.5/10 rating by, backed by the wonderful Williams’ – with any luck she’ll treat the Surf Café with her Hey […]

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