Villagers: {Awayland} (EMI)

 |   |  <1 min read

Villagers: Judgement Call
Villagers: {Awayland} (EMI)

If there was an issue with multi-instrumentalist Conor O'Brien's otherwise excellent 2010 solo debut album Becoming a Jackal (under his nom de disque Villagers) it was that he repeatedly wrote as a universal, wisdom-infused observer, the all-seeing “I” as it were.

This more sonically expansive outing – former pop-rocker and sometime folkie embraces electronics, horns, strings – adopts a less authoritative voice and more emotionally engaged if intellectual tone.

Coupling memorable melodies and lyrics with subtle arrangements, this fulfills all the promise of that debut (which was shortlisted for the Mercury and Choice awards in the UK, and picked up the Ivor Novello songwriting award for its title track).

Songs here allude to incomplete fill-the-gaps narratives (the time-shifting urgency of Earthly Pleasures) and hard-edge images abound as much as suggestions of metaphysical (and zoological) ideas, and they often soar –as with Nothing Arrived – on delightfully uplifting pop melodies. Or race on the back of propulsive beats (the melodramatic The Bell with its guitar twang).

There are also pastoral passages and, in Newfound Land, a Paul Simon-like lullaby-cum-meditation.

O'Brien's clear, gently enunciated vocals carry everything, and the diverse but coherent {Awayland} is one of this year's early keepers and growers.

Share It

Your Comments

Saskia - Feb 4, 2013

Ahhh, so exciting! I've loved Villagers ever since i saw him perform 'Becoming a Jackal' on Jools Holland :)

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Charlie Horse: I Hope I Am Not a Monster (laughingoutlaw.com.au)

Charlie Horse: I Hope I Am Not a Monster (laughingoutlaw.com.au)

Better a few months late than not at all for this gritty, pleasingly ragged and sometimes boisterous rock from an Australian band which has done the character-building work through pubs but... > Read more

Various Artists: Cold Cold Heart; Where Country Meets Soul Vol 3 (Kent/Border)

Various Artists: Cold Cold Heart; Where Country Meets Soul Vol 3 (Kent/Border)

The crossover between country and soul has long been acknowledged but this excellent series brings classics and obscurities together just to gently push the point home further. Elsewhere has... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Vij's marinated lamb popsicles

Vij's marinated lamb popsicles

I cannot tell a lie, the Vikram Vij who owns Vancouver's famous Vij's restaurant didn't give me this recipe himself. But it was published in the newspaper when I was there so I guess it is now... > Read more

Portico Quartet: Isla (Real World/Southbound)

Portico Quartet: Isla (Real World/Southbound)

This second album by the British quartet confirms why they are one of the most interesting things on the British improv/jazz scene: and not because they are fiery adrenalin-infused post-bop... > Read more