- Audio CD (14 Jan. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Domino Records
- ASIN: B009ELWJJG
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,975 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|Price:||£6.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details|
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Awayland is the follow up to the Mercury-nominated and Ivor Novello Award winning debut by Villagers, Becoming a Jackal. Engineered, produced and mixed at Attica Audio in Donegal by Conor J. O'Brien and Villagers guitarist Tommy McLaughlin.
When your debut album bags a Mercury Prize nomination, expectations for its follow-up are going to be raised. Villagers’ Becoming a Jackal set of 2010 was an alternately arresting and disturbing release more than worthy of its place on the Mercury list, a showcase for Irish singer-songwriter Conor O’Brien’s sensitive croon and dark way with words.
The mood this time round is tangibly different. Seemingly more of a collective effort (O’Brien lauds the musicianship of his band members in the accompanying notes), the angelic harmonies of opener My Lighthouse, or the gently lulling “ooh”s of the otherwise instrumental title track endow the music with a new lightness.
Strings mimic the ebb and flow of a tide on Grateful Song, reflecting a general loose atmosphere of the sea also created with the album’s lyrical references to “the barrier reef” (The Waves), the singing of sea birds (Nothing Arrived), a “paddle fish” (Passing a Message) and In a Newfound Land You Are Free’s lovely description of how “the windows reveal the spinning sea”.
The macabre does occasionally bare its fangs, but this time round it’s restricted to the odd glancing reference that makes you do an aural double take. The delicate My Lighthouse mentions skinning a corpse (of a ghost); Grateful Song describes a God of “pain… tragedy… hatred and deceit… of a hapless, helpless agony”.
Later, the twist of In a Newfound Land You Are Free – ostensibly a touching ballad to a newborn – seems to suggest that the baby has died: “I am burned by a lifetime too brief / With this newfound land comes a newfound grief.”
The evocative lyrics sometimes suffer from overly mannered or just overdone phraseology – O’Brien’s use of “thee” instead of “you” (The Lighthouse) or “for to” instead of “to” (Grateful Song) jars slightly – and the vocal enunciation is sometimes a little oppressive in its intimacy. But these are ultimately prices worth paying for the pleasingly poetic, adventurous and occasionally florid use of words that mark Villagers out as one of the more interesting, literate and imaginative storytellers of recent years.
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Top Customer Reviews
album 'Becoming A Jackal' was a quietly menacing and thoroughly engrossing
affair. The kind of stuff which gave you the shivers in a very nice way.
Their new release 'Awayland' opens up a few new avenues. The sound, though
still substantially acoustic in nature, has thickened and gained in complexity
without losing any of its immediacy and appeal. Take 'Earthly Pleasure', for
example, a dense brew of crashing guitar, brutal percussion and shivering
strings, together with the kind of memorable chorus which has you reaching
for the repeat button the moment it's over; or perhaps the almost jaunty 'The
Waves' with its energetic quasi-caribbean rhythms and the superb 'Grateful
Song', with its uplifting sense of breadth and drama, to witness the artistic
development of an artist firing on all six creative cylinders. There are some
wonderfully simple moments too : 'In A Newfound Land You Are Free' is the kind
of song which you'll be drawn back to again and again for its gorgeous melody
and perfectly focused piano accompaniment and restrained vocal performance.
So early on in the New Year Villagers may well have delivered one of 2013's
musical highlights. It fully deserves our undivided attention and applause.
I was subsequently knocked out by a performance at the Borderline in London, the songs sounded alive. Plus we got to hear much of this new collection - most of which sounded wonderful.
Now I have the CD, and it mostly is wonderful. The songwriting is assured, the melodies are naggingly good and the playing is great. I still think there is a lack of something soulful herein, but have no doubt that Conor O'Brien is making his way slowly towards creating a masterpiece. He certainly has the talent.
I prefer having hard copy CD's so had to wait a week until it arrived in NZ. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
This is a great follow up and easily up there with becoming a jackal. Conor J O'Brien is sheer genius. Tough to pick a favourite track
but hard to get Nothing Arrived out of my head. With this CD something certainly did arrive.
O'Brien has taken his time and navigated through a period racked with self-doubt and worries that he might be a "fraud" which led him to explore a wider musical palette to infuse his songs with more depth and greater layers of instrumentation beyond the guitar. His first song released from the album last year "The Waves" returns to the sea (a key theme of Jackal) but introduces lush electronic soundscapes and his distinctly intimately vocal style.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best song on away land is track five, nothing arrived. Rythm controller is not bad either.
A bit better than becoming a jackal
A really interesting album and way way better that the first one. The music is well written and you can really see a movement into new areas of writing some great lyrics too. Read morePublished on 10 July 2014 by Tao
Love almost all the tracks on this album. Heard `Waves` first, via social media, then read an interview with Villagers in a music zine. Read morePublished on 28 Jun. 2014 by Lampgirl
I really liked ' Becoming A Jackal', and in many ways this is a move forward, a lot more electronic,better songs and production.
A few good songs: in particular, 'The Waves', 'Nothing Arrived' and 'In a Newfound Land You Are Free'. Read morePublished on 26 Sept. 2013 by Our Mutual Fiend