Darren Hayman And The Long Parliament - Four Queens - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Darren Hayman And The Long Parliament - Four Queens

by Sarah Allen Rating:5 Release Date:2013-04-20

The first time I began listening to this EP, I was horrified. Immediately. I was lured to reviewing Four Queens by the fact that the project's head honcho previously worked with Hefner - not to be confused with Hugh - as a guitarist and singer. I was obsessed with the chilled, modern jazz album Residue as a teen and believed it would stand to reason that members involved in its production would be genius artists unable to produce anything short of perfection.

Alas, I received a rude awakening as Hayman's unpolished vocals on the opening track 'Henrietta Maria' blared meekly from my car speakers, my mother in the passenger seat. By now, she was used to my "unusual taste" in music. But I felt like I had been framed! This was not what I had in mind. Embarrassed, I ejected the disc immediately, opting to complete my review in private.

Instantly, scathing verdicts were born after hearing Hayman's opener. It sounded like something a teenage boyfriend had made up for his latest crush on the spot with a guitar and a few too many bottles of beer on the wall.

"He should have stayed with Hefner," I thought to myself.

"The project should have been called: 'Darren, Hay-Man! What the Heck Was I Thinking?!'"

"No wonder it's only being released on vinyl; it would be a waste of money to produce on discs because no-one would buy them!"

He's expected to perform at London's Vortex jazz club this year, the date as yet unconfirmed. I decided I was busy that night…

You get the idea. Reluctantly listening to the rest of the album alone through headphones, slowly but surely - and slightly begrudgingly - I shrugged off distaste for what I had initially written off as a glorified history lesson. As the project title suggests, Four Queens is about just that: The story of four English queens told through four easy listening tracks, including 'Elizabeth the First' with pretty vocals from Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Morris.

Four Queens is actually kind of interesting, especially for those who didn't pay attention in history lessons at school. The slightly melancholic but sweet 'Nine Day Queen', about 17-year-old Lady Jane Grey, becomes quite moving, with Hayman extolling her many virtues and misfortunes, ("Hard upbringing; so hard, she might be in Hell,") before pleading in the chorus, "Please take her head, before she lies down."

I wouldn't say I enjoyed Four Queens, but I didn't hate it. Which makes it average listening for a warm and sunny late Sunday afternoon. I'm still busy for any live shows, though…

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