Darren Hayman returns with a beautifully delicate and touchingly honest album simply titled Florence after the city in which it was created. This is his very first purely solo album, story featuring no other musicians. It was written and recorded between Christmas and New Year at the end of 2014 in the Firenze flat belonging to Elizabeth Morris (Allo Darlin’) and Ola Innset (Making Marks). Continuing his habit of making incisive, buy observational and beautiful albums, with Florence Hayman has taken a back-to-basics approach, eschewing his recent collaborative, conceptual approaches for a humble and modest solo effort, entirely recorded and performed in the Italian apparetemento of his hosts.
Florence is sparse and poignant. Tinged with melancholy and etched with heartache, revealing the very best of Hayman’s considerable songwriting verve, this collection of songs shows what you can achieve whilst on holiday at a friend’s house, taking refuge in the winter quiet during the festive season.
“Perfectly poised romances on intimate solo outing from ex-Hefner man… Florence is a beautiful, bespoke gem of an album… Italian jobs come no finer.” Uncut [8/10]
“Its delicately observed song cycle unfolds like a novella or short film, with tracks that might seem slight in isloation gaining resonance in situ.” Q [3/5]
“This lack of concept has enabled Hayman to go back to the universal motifs of love and loss that served him so well as the frontman of indie favourites Hefner. And we’re glad to report that he’s right back on the money from the word go. First track Nuns Run The Apothecary turns a stream of mundane details into something inexplicably heartbreaking, with little but a softly strummed guitar as an accompaniment. This is Hayman’s gift – the ability to elevate the quotidian to heights that are almost sacred… Hayman has made a career out of surprising his listeners, and Florence – cutting and pretty, grubby and sexy – is one of his best surprises yet.” Folk Radio
“In some ways this is my favourite Hayman album for some time. It’s got the song writing of the best of his Essex trilogy and the warmth of much of his January songs project, recorded at this same time of year and involving him writing, recording and releasing a song a day with help from his musical friends and social media community, including my own dog.
Although in a different city to his native London this most melancholy of times of year once again provides the perfect inspiration for his songwriting.” Neon Filler
“Florence is another excellent addition to Darren Hayman’s sterling oeuvre” The Line Of Best Fit [8/10]
“Across the album, there are moments to savour: a charming fuzzy guitar solo on ‘From the Square to the Hill’; an Americana-infused guitar riff on ‘When You’re Lonely, Don’t Be’, a gradual layering of guitar lines and multi-tracked vocals on ‘Didn’t I Say Don’t Fall In Love With Him’ and, as the album draws to a close, a pretty slice of psych-folk that could easily pass for a long-lost sixties relic, the kind of thing Stuart Maconie occasionally plays to calm people down during his ‘Freak Zone’ programme. Modest and restrained, yet pretty and tuneful, anyone who has found their way to this website is bound to enjoy this.” PennyBlack Music
“Taking inspiration from his Italian surroundings, Hayman here occasionally takes a step back from his usual Anglo-centric musings with the late period Jonathan Richman-esque instrumentation suiting his ruminations on life, love and getting older.” Narc [4/5]
Buy it on 12″ vinyl or download here