NEWS: Villagers @ Sage Gateshead | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Andrew Whitton

Irish indie folk sweethearts Villagers (alias Connor O’Brien) recently released the beautifully crafted story-so-far Where Have You Been All My Life?, and Monday 1st February sees him bring his intimate standards to Sage Gateshead.

Having only released the superb Darling Arithmetic in April last year, this new release sees O’Brien recast and reimagine the last five years and three albums into one delightful live miscellany; recorded in a single day at London’s RAK Studios alongside a stellar roster of musicians and Grammy winning producer Richard Woodcraft.

It is a bold move to release a best-of-that-isn’t-actually-a-best-of and an even more remarkable one to produce something so thoughtfully crafted and delightfully necessary. Stripped back versions of tracks like That Day from Villagers’ debut album sound fresh; the acoustic guitar paired with wistful horn lines allow O’Brien’s vocals all the room they deserve, something perhaps not afforded on the original recordings. Naturally tracks from 2015’s Darling Arithmetic sound most at home among the double bass and harp arrangements and the rework of Hot And Heavy Summer draped around a full-sounding but never overpowering grand piano is a mournful romantic affair. The dynamics throughout the record are a highlight – all of the tracks on the album were recorded in one or two takes with no overdubs, so if that isn’t an advert to go and see the band live, I don’t what is.

Villagers play Sage Gateshead on Monday 1st February.

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