English songwriter Darren Hayman must be fast approaching national treasure status by now, thanks to a wonderfully eccentric musical career that shows no signs of slowing.
His lovelorn indie has been tickling ears and warming hearts for more than two decades, first in the John Peel endorsed, lo-fi loving four-piece Hefner and later as a solo troubadour.
All the while, he’s been colouring in the spaces between classic sixties-era songwriting, jangly indie and archaic folk, succinctly channelling our quirky British customs through the medium of pop.
His latest endeavour, which earned him the Hardest Working Artist Prize at the 2016 AIM Awards, has seen him visit every ‘thankful village’ in the country.
The tour of the villages, notable because all their sons returned from World War One, has so far delivered two beautiful albums enriched with field recordings, first-person interviews, folk tales and his trademark pop nous.
Destined to visit and document all 54 parishes, and now nearly two years into the project, Darren’s latest leg kicks off later this month (dates below).
In the meantime, he’s put together a playlist of some of the tracks which are feeding his ears on the long road round…
Sharon Forrester – Here Comes the Sun
A depression beater. A Beatles cover out stripping the original.
Mayo Thompson – The Lesson
Chaotic and bordering on falling apart, I like songs where both meoldy and meaning have to be dug for. [this one wasn’t on Spotify]
Girls Aloud – Biology
At least four chorus’s in one song. The musical equivalent of a knickerbocker glory.
Emitt Rhodes – With My Head on the Floor
A slightly abstracted lyric that reveals the best song Paul McCartney never wrote.
Carroll Thompson – Yesterday
Another song that McCartney didn’t write. A beautiful tension between joyous music and forlorn lyrics.
Status Quo – Paper Plane
My favourite artists spend a lifetime perfecting one song. Eclecticism is over-rated.
The Amps – Tipp City
Kim Deal is another songwriter who often hides her melodies until the fourth listen. They unravel then worm into your brain.
When I Leave Berlin – Wizz Jones
A song recently covered by Bruce Springsteen that must have paid for a few breakfasts for the under appreciated Wizz.
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Linus and Lucy
A tune to carry you back to your childhood on a cloud.
Diana Jones – Better Days Will Come
Neck and neck with Iris Dement as my favourite country singer.
Thankful Villages Volume 2 is out on 26 May via Rivertones. Preorder it here.
Thursday 25 May – The Horse Hospital, London (extra date added)
Friday 26 May – The Horse Hospital, London (sold out)
Thursday 1 June – Thankful Village of Herbrandston
Sunday 4 June – Thankful Village of Saxby
Saturday 17 June – Thankful Village of Aisholt
Saturday 1 July – Thankful Village of Minting