Villagers, the solo project of Irish singer-songwriter and drummer
Conor O'Brien, formerly half of the Immediate (with David Hedderman) that
released In Tower & Clouds (Fantastic Plastic, 2006), debuted with
Becoming a Jackal (Domino, 2010).
O'Brien displays a sincere and profound soul, and some
Robert Wyatt-ian dizziness in
I Saw The Dead, a hymn enveloped in strings while
piano and drums seem to play two different tunes.
He specializes in quaint reinventions of Mersey-beat tunefulness
(Becoming a Jackal)
and Burt Bacharach-esque pop (Home).
In order to tell his stories with maximum pathos,
he elegantly mixes gospel and country in the tender The Pact
and deconstructs falsetto soul music in the insane crescendo of Pieces.
A completely different singer takes on the
fragile wails of The Meaning Of The Ritual (with strings and horns
swelling and fading gracefully)
and the martial Neil Young-ian elegy
To Be Counted Among Men
Despite the uneven material, this album established
O'Brien as one of the most accomplished one-man bands of his generation.
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