Dubliner Conor O’Brien re-emerged under new guise Villagers following the demise of previous band The Immediate. Becoming A Jackal was one of the most highly anticipated releases for many years and has gone down well with critics and punters alike, so what can be said that hasn’t already been said?
Honestly, not a lot really since this album has attracted comprehensive column inches and coverage. What’s most striking about this album is the sheer depth, sincerity, honesty, beauty and quality of the song writing on offer, from the very first listen it’s clear this isn’t just ‘another album’. There is a perfect balance of styles intricately woven to create this album from the raw power and super string arrangements of ‘I Saw The Dead’, the frailty and compassion of the title track to the upbeat and uplifting ”That Day’ and ‘The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)’ which could have been recorded by Cat Stevens decades ago.
Thankfully it avoids the usually pitfalls and clichés many folk singers or singer-song writers fall for; namely being wingey, broken-hearted, bland and depressing – conversely this is an overwhelmingly uplifting record with melancholic tones running throughout, a feat rarely achieved successfully apart from the aforementioned Cat Stevens or Conor Oberst. It goes without saying it’s one of the best Irish albums in years, acoustic melancholy, done right.