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

Half Japanese: Hear the Lions Roar (Fire)

Half Japanese: Hear the Lions Roar (Fire)

Always something of an acquired taste, the avant-rock, inspired but wilful amateurism, indie cult-cum-comedic sound of Half Japanese – now more than 35 years into a “career”... > Read more

Ellis Island Sound: The Good Seed (Peacefrog)

Ellis Island Sound: The Good Seed (Peacefrog)

At last! I received a preview copy of this wonderful instrumental album almost six months ago and have been waiting ever since to post it. And in that time I kept changing my mind about which... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Sunidhi Chauhan and Vishal: Naa Puchho (2007)

Sunidhi Chauhan and Vishal: Naa Puchho (2007)

More scenes from the global village? While walking through Kuala Lumpur's Little India I heard this track rocking out of the speakers in a small record shop. I was transfixed: urban, English... > Read more

Mahi's West Coast Venison Hot Pot

Mahi's West Coast Venison Hot Pot

This recipe was provided by Jayson Hussey, aka Mahi which means "work" because he was always working. He was the chef at the luxurious Franz Joseph Glacier Country Retreat near the Franz... > Read more