Villagers - Becoming A Jackal
A recent appearance on Later…With Jools Holland will surely have garnered a new audience for the beguiling and poetic Villagers. Although the name implies a huge band, Villagers is in fact a solo offering from young Irishman Conor J. O’Brien. ‘I Saw The Dead’ and the title track lead us off on a gripping journey through the poetic and downbeat nature of O’Brien's songwriting. For the most part this works very well and keeps the listener engaged until we reach the penultimate song, ‘Pieces’, a woefully misjudged piece that, from a dodgy and dreary beginning, descends in to utter horror as O’Brien howls his way to a much needed conclusion. The gentle acoustic closer ‘To be Counted Among Men’ regains some of the lost ground and leaves us with the feeling of a great talent who needs just a little guidance to reign in some of the unnecessary extremes displayed here. 2010 has been a great year for the art of the singer-songwriter with albums from Tom McRae and Lone Wolf leading the pack. Becoming A Jackal, while not quite in the same league as those wonderful albums, is worthy of all the attention and plaudits that will it surely garner.