26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Villagers - The day of the jackal,
This review is from: Becoming A Jackal (Audio CD)
The recent great news that BBC Radio 6 music is to be saved warmed the cockles of many a music lovers heart in the UK particularly those who seek out new and original music. Listening to the channel recently a song came on which was clearly an outright classic; a lost gem perhaps from Paddy McAloon, a new song from Andrew Bird or a neglected find from the vault of the late great Elliot Smith? As it turns out the song was "Becoming A Jackal" from Dublin songwriter Conor J O'Brien who records under the name of Villagers and whose band has recently supported those cherished dilettante's from Kendal - The Wild Beasts. As we speak this wonderful debut album sits on top of the Irish album music chart (Week ending 20th May 2010) proving yet again the impeccable musical taste of our chums across the Irish sea who we can just about make out from some parts of Wales on a good day.
Becoming a Jackal is an album bursting with O'Briens' vivid narratives, gripping poetry and melodic depth. As a debut album it oozes such confidence that O'Brien could claim this has his fifth album and not a single eyebrow would be raised. True the album gets off to a rather strange start with opener "I saw the dead" which is an ever so Gothic rolling piano ballad but which grows on repeated listened. It is followed by the already mentioned gem of a title track and other little jewels quickly follow not least the incredibly strong set of songs that compose the middle part of the album. The "Meaning of ritual" stars with a slow organ which reminds me of a James Yorkston song and builds into a delicate confessional ballad which really exposes the complete shallowness of the work of those other pretenders the Morrison's, the Merriweather's and the horrible Nutini. The pounding drums on "Home" and the tinkling piano is a tremendous foundation for one of O'Brien's best vocals and strongest set of lyrics evoking a narrative full of what Danny Carroll has noted to be "an evocative world of snakes, saints, and carnivorous scavengers". "The Pact"(I'll be your fever) is more upbeat and jaunty but brilliantly done and will surely be a live favourite, while "That day" is a completely assured pop ballad with Paul McCartney like feel and no doubt the masters inspiration has played a part. Along with "Becoming a Jackal" the other outstanding highlight is "Set the tigers free". Anyone that can can evoke the god like genius of Prefab Sprout's "Steve McQueen" era must have something going for them and the version on here ticks over beautifully in a melodic grove which has distant echoes of both "Moving the River" and "When the angels" from McAloon's masterwork. Check out in addition the equally strong version on BBC 6 sessions.
This is one of those albums which probably demands your individual attention rather than to be played collectively. It is gentle, evocative, crystalline and passionate and could happily be delivered from the corner of a smoky bar (if it wasn't banned of course). The Irish press have openly speculated that O'Brien in musical terms might just be another "anointed one" like Damien Rice who can take the wider world by storm and build on the already massively impressive musical pedigree of artists from the Emerald Isle. The evidence for such a claim is overwhelmingly set out in "Becoming a Jackal" and it is for you as the musical jury to determine the fate of this brilliant debut.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 May 2010 14:00:46 BDT
J. Macdonald says:
Yes, indeed - 6 Music, the radio station that plays songs you don't hear on the radio.
Will really be pissed off if they close it down.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2010 20:22:09 BDT
Mr Macdonald - thank you for your comment. Let us hope that the campaign which is gathering force to save 6 music is successful. It really does serve a growing niche market and is a such a welcome relief form the usual "noize" found elsewhere
Cheers R o B
Posted on 1 Jun 2010 00:47:21 BDT
T. J. Field says:
brilliant review...well done keep up the good work...will definitely be getting this album :)
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2010 19:42:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2010 19:43:05 BDT
Thanks T J Field much appreciated - its an album which grows with every listen and shows astonishing maturity
Cheers R o B
Posted on 7 Jun 2010 22:26:56 BDT
Don Panik says:
you write some great reviews, I love this album - but you said evrything that needs saying.
Interesting use of crystalline too!
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jun 2010 18:58:31 BDT
Don - Thank you for your kind comment, its good to have positive feedback. Keep enjoying this album its quite special
Cheers R o B
Posted on 23 Jul 2010 15:39:58 BDT
Mild Dill Hotpot says:
Good review and we have also managed to save "Radio 6", ......now, lets see if this great artist can walk off with "Mercury Prize"!!!
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jul 2010 09:18:33 BDT
Mild Dill Hotpot
Thanks for the comment and great news about Radio 6. I understand that the bookies fave on the Mercury prize is The XX. I love this album by Villagers but my personal view is that Laura Marling might sneak it.
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