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

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo (Reprise)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo (Reprise)

My take on Tom Petty -- most of whose albums in the first decade or more I cherished with a passion, but had misfortunes with the man -- is that when he hooked up with the Traveling Wilburys he... > Read more

Space Case: Retrospective (Ode)

Space Case: Retrospective (Ode)

Just a quick acknowledgement here of this excellent double-disc collection of the three albums by Auckland's early-to-mid 80s jazz-rock outfit Space Case which formed around drummer Frank Gibson,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE ROLLING STONES; FIFTY YEARS by CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD

THE ROLLING STONES; FIFTY YEARS by CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD

Reading this well paced and page-turning overview of the Rolling Stones' career, lives and finances, the surprise is not that they have survived 50 years, but that they survived 1968, 1969, 1970,... > Read more

ERIC CLAPTON; THE FIRST 25 YEARS CONSIDERED: The living link between hippie and yuppie

ERIC CLAPTON; THE FIRST 25 YEARS CONSIDERED: The living link between hippie and yuppie

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Eric Clapton -- once called "God" by his devotees -- ceased to be relevant. Certainly he still plays to huge audiences and his guitar playing remains... > Read more