Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament – The Violence
For the concluding instalment of his ‘Essex trilogy’, Darren Hayman rewinds the clock a few hundred years. The first two parts surveyed the songwriter’s home county as it is now, his typically incisive vignettes encompassing new towns and joyrides (amongst other things). The Violence inhabits a somewhat different landscape, taking as its concept the 17th century witch trials that sent hundreds to the gallows.
The presiding tone is understandably melancholic, both lyrically and musically. Consider Elizabeth Clarke: named after (and told from the perspective of) an 80-year-old woman amongst the first to hang, its chorus of “who’s going to feed my dog... who’s going to pull my ankle when I swing?” sung over what sounds like the creaking of the hangman’s scaffold, finds sad poetry in small details. It’s a skill demonstrated repeatedly across the album’s twenty tracks, and despite occasional filler-pieces, Hayman’s historical odyssey is never a trial.