Villagers at the Edge Festival
Tender, poetic pop, now with added Mercury nomination
This article is from 2010.
‘I usually have a picture or a colour in my head as I’m making a song,’ says Dublin’s Conor O’Brien – the dulcet bard and multi-instrumentalist behind Villagers’ picturesque rock.
And so it was with Becoming a Jackal (Domino), the dramatic singer-songwriter’s debut album, which ‘began as a drawing I did in my little notebook, and slowly evolved into a song, and then into an album – which was a nice surprise’. As was its recent inclusion on the Mercury shortlist – an accolade our erstwhile Immediate linchpin reckons is ‘pretty cool’.
Citing Neil Young, Randy Newman and Nina Simone as musical influences, O’Brien’s striking lyricism is embroiled in literature, not least ‘the writings of Hermann Hesse – Narcissus and Goldmund in particular’.
He possesses an arresting stage presence – stark mop; gigantic eyes; ‘compact’ stature; startling voice – but can it really be true, as Wikipedia states, that our acoustic hypnotist could have been a footballer, and even tried out for Charlton FC? ‘Ha ha, does it really say that?’ he laughs. ‘I’m guessing that my drummer James is responsible for these insipid lies.’
Villagers, Sneaky Pete’s, 08444 999 990, Fri 6 Aug, 7pm, £8. www.theedgefstival.com