God Is In The TV > Reviews > Albums > Villagers – Where Have You Been All My Life? (Domino)

Villagers – Where Have You Been All My Life? (Domino)

VillageLE

VillageLEJust like last year, 2016 has seen Villagers start with something of a bang – at least a bang in their own way – with the announcement of a new record, Where Have You Been All My Life?

A slightly unconventional live record that’s due to be released on the 8th of January, this album sees the musical brainchild of Conor O’Brien take to performing a catalogue of their existing songs, a couple of covers and some new material which provides a showcase of exactly who or what Villagers is about.

Coming together to create this record, Villagers have sought to create an auditory tapestry of their history and influences, and having seen them play live early last year I can confirm first-hand that this record has the feel of one of their performances. Perhaps one of their best attributes is something that comes to the fore, intentionally, with this album – their willingness and enthusiasm to take their existing, well-established songs and perform them in a way you’ve never imagined.

Case and point in this record is ‘The Waves’; it’s virtually unrecognisable in the first few minutes of listening though this doesn’t take anything away from the experience. In fact, it adds a new level of appreciation toward the band and their art, especially when you consider the planning and methodology that has gone into a complete reworking of a song. Add to that the fact that these recordings were either first or second takes of a single-day session that took place in July, and it’s easy to see why Villagers get the recognition they so rightly deserve.

As live records go, this one is somewhat different in that it was the result of a session that took place at the RAK Studios in London, not played to any crowd other than those involved on that July day. Instead of being the conventional recording of a show, Where Have You Been All My Life? was a conscious effort to re-do some of their long-standing songs – in fact, the track listing includes songs from all three of their records, including last year’s Darling Arithmetic.

For those who have never seen Villagers play live, you do yourselves a disservice – fortunately, they are on the verge of a lengthy UK & European tour schedule which involves trips to some of the UK’s major cities (sadly, Cardiff has been omitted). To those who cannot attend any of these dates, this album will make for a welcome and satisfying compromise as its proximity to a Villagers live show in the flesh is unerring, something which in itself is a blatant sign of this band’s quality.

[Rating:4]

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