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Darren Hayman - The Ship's Piano

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 12 / 10 / 2011



Darren Hayman - The Ship's Piano
Label: Fortuna POP!
Format: CD

intro

Simplistically melodic and tender collection of piano ballads and love songs from prolific former Hefner front man Darren Hayman, which was recorded largely at home as he recovered from being assaulted


In 2009, Darren Hayman was attacked in a car park, as he loaded his gear back into his car after a show in Nottingham. He left hospital with head injuries which made listening to loud music impossible. Although unable to bear drums and feedback, Hayman couldn’t resist writing songs. He found that concentrating on songwriting was the best way to not concentrate on his headaches. Having recently acquired a fold-up piano, the kind you would have found in the bar of a ferry a century ago, he composed a set of songs on it. The resulting album was recorded, for the most part, by Hayman alone, at home. Two songs were recorded at Soup Studios, a regular haunt and two more were recorded at a Salvation Army Hall in Canterbury. It’s no coincidence that these are the songs on which a small guest cast adorn Hayman’s piano ballads with a little more instrumentation. Much of Hayman’s recent work explores what can be done within a pre-defined set of limits. Last year’s 'Essex Arms', for example, contains no amplification. But The Ship’s Piano never feels like a writing exercise. Instead, Hayman emerges with a set of love songs, gently melodic and keenly observed. Fans of earlier compositions like 'Your Head to Your Toes' or 'The National Canine Defence League' will find much of a similar vintage here. His piano playing is competent, but don’t expect any Ben Folds impersonations. Hayman keeps it simple, much like John Lennon tended to. Splashes from his collection of vintage synths give the downtempo ballad 'Take a Breather' a little colour, Starting with a single break of a cymbal, and one of the few songs on the album to feature any significant percussion, 'I Taught You How To Dance' is a career highlight. A lilting, melody, this simple song about a couple of the dancefloor, it might be too sweet for some tastes. But, in homing on the awkward details, it’s the kind of off kilter love song he’s excelled at for years. 'It’s Easy 'o Hang With You' is a twist on the jilted-lover theme so common on Hefner albums, with Hayman detailing an upturn in a long term relationship. Its a song that would have fit nicely on Hefner’s 'We Love the City'. This album marks a break in a trilogy of conceptual albums all set in Essex, with the final part to be themed on the Witch Trials. It comes in the same year that he began by recording 31 songs in a single month, and just two months before he releases a set of 'Christmas Songs'. His productivity and imagination have helped Hayman get some attention from a music press that seemed to have cruelly forgotten all about him a few years ago. But, on ‘The Ship’s Piano’, there isn’t a trace of the conceptual. This album is a simple set of songs, carefully written and even more carefully recorded. Modest in comparison with his more ambitious projects, yes, but warm and inviting – transcending the unhappy circumstances of its birth. Its direct, lovelorn, first-person lyrics make it the best place for anyone who liked Hefner but hasn’t sailed with Hayman since to climb back on board.



Track Listing:-
1 I Taught You How To Dance
2 Old House
3 Cuckoo
4 It’s Easy To Hang With You
5 Know Your Place
6 Take A Breather
7 Clown Sky
8 No Children
9 Oh Josephine
10 Think It Through
11 The Ship's Piano


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Darren-Hayman/55543614047
http://www.hefnet.com/


Label Links:-
http://www.fortunapop.com/
https://twitter.com/fortunapop
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fortuna-POP/202756739792517



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