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Darren Hayman - Thankful Villages Volume 1

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 21 / 7 / 2016

Darren Hayman - Thankful Villages Volume 1
Label: Rivertones
Format: CD


Poignant and ambitious new album, the first in three volumes, from Darren Hayman, in which he visited and wrote a piece of music for each of the fifty-four Thankful Villages where every soldier returned alive from the First World War

This is the first of three volumes of a project undertaken by Darren Hayman. ‘Thankful villages’ are those unusually fortunate villages where all the soldiers returned after the First World War. Arthur Mee identified 54 of them in his 1930s series of guide books, 'The King’s England'. Darren Hayman visited 18 of them during 2014/15, taking inspiration from their churches and monuments, oral history interviews, local stories and traditional songs. Using folk instrumentation, vocal harmonies and ambient sounds, recordings were made in the field. From graveyards and village greens, there’s a sense of these villages being restful as well as thankful, their churches a place of refuge as much as a centre of congregation. Released by Rivertones, part of the Caught by the River family, it’s very much what I would expect of their creative output. Not all the stories relate to the First World War, though Dolly’s story from South Eltham is a particularly fascinating one. This approach is part of a new and growing practice, using soundscapes and archives, woven through with new and traditional song writing and instrumental music. The interest in the centenary of the First World War has resulted in a huge amount of newly digitised archives of the time being released, and a fresh approach to interpreting and exploring this period of history. I was particularly interested in the pieces of music inspired by two villages I am familiar with, Butterton in Staffordshire and Bradbourne in Debyshire. There’s a spontaneity to the mood of these pieces. They are intensely personal responses, in the choice of lyrics, spoken word and tunes. There’s a real sense of place for each village and we share in Darren’s journey, guided through the familiar and unfamiliar by his compositions. It’s both poignant and timeless, drifting and meandering through a sometimes forgotten countryside, exploring a past that seems just out of reach.

Track Listing:-
1 Knowlton
2 Culpho
3 St Michael, South Elmham
4 Puttenham
5 Stoke Hammond
6 Little Sodbury
7 Rodney Stoke
8 Holywell Lake
9 Aisholt
10 Stocklinch
11 Strethall
12 Welbury
13 Scruton
14 Chelwood
15 Langton Herring
16 Herodsfoot
17 Butterton
18 Bradbourne

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Darren Hayman - Interview
As he prepared for the release of 'Home Time', his 17th album, Darren Hayman speaks to Ben Howarth about his most personal album and his reflections on the end of his epic, award-winning 'Thankful Villages' project.
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