Where Have You Been All My Life is a live-in-the-studio collection of reworkings of songs from the last 3 Villagers albums. The record successfully gets down for posterity the new, more intimate takes given to this material over the last few years of touring. Available in regular formats and also an indies-exclusive green vinyl edition with bonus tracks on the download code.
- LP £15.99
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- WIGLP368X / Limited indies only TRANSLUCENT GREEN coloured vinyl LP on Domino. Download includes 2 bonus tracks
- Includes download code
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Not content with sprinkling three well thought out albums over five years, Villagers now attempt to flow each record into one piece by recording songs from all of them in a one day session at London’s RAK studios. It’s one of those moves that can raise the question ‘what’s the point?’ but sounds so lovingly crafted that the question soon disappears into the ether. For something recorded so quickly these things are pretty lush, and not being an avid Villagers listener I’m not sure how they differ from the originals -- but by gum these are nicely recorded. You mean to tell me that these were recorded in one day live? These musicians must never make mistakes.
Villagers straddle that line between being a fine singer-songwriter fayre and lapsing into David Gray-style earnest confessionals. I can certainly hear ‘Everything I Am Is Yours’ drifting out of 30 something owned expensive stereo systems and it probably deserves its place there. It’s nice to hear ‘Courage’ again from ‘Darling Arithmetic’ probably my favourite Villagers song so far and if Jimmy Nail wants to put a new album out then he need look no further than this for the title track. Seriously. This needs to be heard by everybody.
I felt Villagers last album ‘Darling Arithmetic‘ was a little on the prosaic side and maybe Conor O'Brien did too. This record places his compositions amongst warm, studious arrangements which breathes new life into them. As alluded to earlier Villagers delivery has just a smattering of David Brent about it that stops it being completely life affirming, but when it’s nailed as the wordy ‘The Soul Serene’ is where he is at his best, the brushed, hushed accompaniment recalls early Belle and Sebastien, the words hand crafted on the Irish coast - and not a ’Free Love Highway’ in earshot.
We close with a take on Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ which sounds like a kind of warm down after the hard work has been done.
My scattershot awareness of their back catalogue probably helps my enjoyment of this, how it comes across to long term fans I’m not sure but taken on it’s own it's a solid, nicely worked, beautifully crafted example of considered, literate folk pop with a quiver.
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- Where Have You Been All My Life by Villagers
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