Darren Hayman & The Short Parliament



If you think the telly schedules are clogged with Tudor and Plantagenet fare, check out Darren Hayman's discography from the past couple of years. Last November, the former singer with indie minor-leaguers Hefner released The Violence, a concept album about witch trials during the English Civil War. He followed that up with an EP, Four Queens, which included a musical portrait of Elizabeth I, and now he goes long-play again with Bugbears, a collection of 17th-century folk songs. The new album is the most traditional-sounding of the lot – mandolin, accordion and fiddle are present and correct – and yet it feels quirkier in concept than performance, like a folk genre idea tackled with an indie band's skillset. On the more narrative-driven songs (including Seven Months Married and I Live Not Where I Love), Hayman moves into "wyrd folk" territory familiar to fans of Alasdair Roberts, although at other times his distinctive, slightly prissy voice puts me in mind more of Bob Dylan auditioning for the role of frontman with Belle And Sebastian.

Alan Morrison