Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Villagers Release on KCRW's "Album Preview"

Conor J. O'Brien (photo via Domino Record Company)
The twitter account for the band is @wearevillagers but Villagers' 2010 debut album Becoming A Jackal was mostly created by Dublin singer-songwriter Conor O'Brien. (The heart wrenching song "Pieces" from this collection was chosen as the closer for my Late Fall 2010 Playlist.) For the sophomore album {Awayland}, O'Brien enlisted the help of a musical collective (Cormac Curran, Danny Snow, James Byrne and Tommy McLaughlin) after touring together.  He sent them demos of the songs before practicing for the recording sessions.  "The first record is a strong album," O'Brien says, "but with this record, I can feel how much it has benefited from the band being involved."  

The soaring single, "Nothing Arrived," recently appeared on my Winter 2013 Playlist.  With its lyrical counterpoint, a weighty subject permeates the song: I waited for Something, and Something died/ So I waited for Nothing, and Nothing Arrived.  O'Brien explains, "For me, 'Nothing Arrived' is a joyful song, but it is presented in a downbeat manner.  I felt like I wanted to write something that was secular yet spiritual, because I've been gravitating gradually towards both of those things in my general outlook on life."  

Within the context of the other tracks during a full album listen, this one sounds most like the previous album.  Things loose their way in the busy song "The Waves" and the heavy instrumentation of "The Bell," but by the swells of emotion in "Grateful Song" all is forgiven. O'Brien puts his voice out in front, and once again the swells of emotion carry the listener along. "In A Newfound Land You Are Free" is just solo piano and O'Brien's pure voice, a sweet ode to life's beginnings. O'Brien wrote everything from the perspective of a newborn baby and even considered calling it Birth. The album artwork does show a young boy looking out to sea yet O'Brien says, "I think the album is about reclaiming that sense of curiosity and wonder, which we have when we are children and we often lose over the years." 

Listen to {Awayland} on the KCRW "Album Preview" page here (release date April 9). 

Track List:

01. My Lighthouse
02. Earthly Pleasure
03. The Waves
04. Judgment Call
05. Nothing Arrived
06. The Bell
07. {Awayland}
08. Passing A Message
09. Grateful Song
10. In A Newfound Land You Are Free
11. Rhythm Composer