Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern - Four Queens EP
TRACKLISTING:1. Henrietta Maria
2. Nine Day Queen
3. Elizabeth the First
4. Eleanor of Aquitaine
A special four-track EP entitled Four Queens, following on from Hayman's critically acclaimed album, The Violence, which has spawned an ongoing fascination with English history.
Comprised of one track from The Violence, the outstanding 'Henrietta Maria', plus three new compositions, the EP features (as the name suggests) songs about a quartet of English Queens. Sung from the perspective of King Charles I as he serenades his French Queen, 'Henrietta Maria' is beautiful and touching, and somehow Hayman manages to indulge in a brief history lesson without ever compromising his lyrical meter or the song’s integrity.
Elsewhere, 'Nine Day Queen' deals with the tragic tale of Lady Jane Grey, who reigned for a mere nine days before being beheaded at the tender age of 17. 'Eleanor Of Aquitaine' tells the story of a monarch who was Queen of both England and France who, as well as marrying two kings gave birth to two, lived to 80 (outliving all but two of her ten children) and caused a whole lot of trouble along the way. Perhaps the standout track here though is 'Elizabeth The First', which sees Elizabeth Morris from Allo Darlin’ taking lead vocals over Hayman's plaintive backing.
As The Violence so clearly showed, Hayman is a master craftsman at the top of his game, and this EP continues the remarkable quality of his recent releases with these four, finely wrought royal vignettes.
Rebranding from indie pop to alt.folk, Darren Hayman follows "The Violence" - last year's magnificent treatise on the Civil War-era Essex witch trials - with more historical lilting, this time about queens. 'Henrietta Maria' lathers lounge music over Hayman dedicating ornate chapels and bloody wars to his sovereign like a renaissance Nick Cave, while 'Nine Day Queen' is a luscious, lute-lapped lullaby about Lady Jane Grey, queen for nine days in 1553 and beheaded for treason aged 17. It's affecting stuff, even when Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Morris takes the lead as a reflective 'Elizabeth The First' or when 'Eleanor Of Aquitaine' tackles the cold-hearted Anna Wintour of 1154. (NME)