Villagers - Where Have You Been All Of My Life?

It’s one of the failsafe releases for an artist these days, the re-imagining of your back catalogue. The interesting thing about Villagers effort is that it comes off the back of only three albums. The basic premise of Where Have You Been All Of My Life? is that Conor O’Brien and crew re-recorded a set of his tracks in one day at RAK Studios. And everything you hear on the finished record is a first or second take. With five tracks from 2015’s Darling Arithmetic, two from 2013’s {Awayland}, and two from his 2010 debut Becoming A Jackal this collection has a slight new record bias.

With two Mercury Prize nominations and an Ivor Novello award for O’Brien’s songwriting behind him the Irishman has a highly regarded set of songs to pull from. Though the new arrangements are only subtly different, when you add the immediacy of the live environment to songs as beautiful as ‘Courage’, (“Courage / It’s a feeling like no other / Courage / The sweet belief of knowing nothing comes for free”) then there are only positive feelings emanating. And it’s that intensity of feeling in O’Brien’s writing that keeps this bubbling along. In many ways this is a pointless collection but isn’t it worth listening again to hear the wonder of that voice and the personal qualities of those lyrics?

Overall

It's live, it's Villagers, it's beautiful.

7

out of 10

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