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The second in a proposed trilogy of albums about Hayman’s home county of Essex, Essex Arms was a conceptual piece about the East Anglian rural underbelly. Whereas Pram Town (2009) dealt with the displacement and ennui of living in a new town (Harlow) – and received the best reviews of Hayman’s post-Hefner career – Essex Arms takes the narrative to the countryside. “The songs are about love in unloved places,” says Darren. “I wanted to sing about a lawless, hidden version of the countryside, but still treat the subject with tenderness and respect”. Featuring contributions from The Wave Pictures, Fanfarlo and, on the single ‘Calling Out Your Name’, a duet with Emmy the Great, Essex Arms achieves all that and more as Hayman paints his pictures of love and squalor in the fields and lanes on the edge of London, in the process reaffirming his credentials as one of Britain’s finest living songwriters.