IF you hadn’t heard of former Hefner frontman Darren Haymans new project, Thankful Villages, then jump aboard quickly as Volume one came out last Friday via Rivertones. Writer Arthur Mee coined the phrase Thankful Villages in the 1930s. In his 1936 book Enchanted land he wrote that a Thankful Village was one which had lost no men in the Great (First World) War. Although Mee identified 32 villages, recent research has shown there were actually 54, and Hayman has visited them all, written a song and recorded a video for each one.

Hayman has released the latest in this series with Strethall (Essex), a sad little song that has something of the music hall about it, as well as Haymans usual indie leanings, and he does mournful so well. He’s joined on this one by Dave Tattersall from The Wave Pictures, Darren’s regular keyboard player Emma Winston (Deerful) and Donal Sweeney on double bass. Of the video and song, Hayman explains “Strethall is the only Thankful Village in my home county of Essex. This time I took a group of friends with me, David, Emma and Donal. It was a cold and golden day. We were lit by a winter sun.
I had gained permission to record in a thousand year old church. We hung microphones from the rafters. We threaded leads around the altar.
St Mary the Virgin Church can be dated back over 1000 years and for this song I found a story from the parish records from 1607.
Robert Parker and Agnes Ewens had committed adultery and were to have a child out of wedlock. The cost of raising the child would fall upon the parish unless responsibility could be laid elsewhere. Robert’s father John was called to account. Many babies were lost in childbirth at the time and an illegitimate child could ruin lives and reputations. This was time without a welfare state.
I thought about the possibility of a village secretly wishing a baby out of existence.
A black dog came and visited us. We all sang with full voices between the pews. The low sun made the chapel yellow.”

Check it out, here

Catch Darren live – Full Tour Dates Here:

3 June – Maplebeck, Village Hall
4 June – London, Cafe Oto

15 June – Hebden Bridge The Trades Club (Sold Out)*
16 June – Carlisle Brickyard*
17 June – Stoke Sugarmill*

18 June – Newcastle, Mining Institute
19 June – Manchester, Gullivers

22 June – Tunbridge Wells Forum (Sold Out)*
23 June – Bournemouth Fire Station*
24 June – Exeter Phoenix*
25 June – Gloucester Guildhall*

16 July – Ramsgate, Ramsgate Music Hall
30 July – St Germans, Cornwall, Port Eliot festival
7 August – London, Caught by the River Thames festival

*Solo With British Sea Power
Other dates are Thankful Villages shows with full band