Less than a year after the release of their last studio album Darling Arithmetic, Villagers have graced us with a new release: Where Have You Been All My Life.

This new LP is not a standard studio album release however. Where Have You Been All My Life is a collection of songs that have appeared in the band’s previous three albums. The Dublin based group have selected some of their most loved tracks and re-imagined them into a new and compelling narrative.

Older songs from the group’s first two albums Becoming a Jackal and {Awayland} are re-invented in a style most similar to that of 2015’s Darling Arithmetic. Newer songs from this album are performed with a new arrangement and intensity that makes them fresh and exciting again.

Included on the album is a recording of the song Memoir which was written by Villagers songwriter and front man Conor O’ Brien for Charlotte Gainsbourg. It appeared on her 2011 album Stage Whisper and has never been recorded by Villagers until now. There is also a cover of Glen Campbell’s classic Wichita Lineman.

Impressively the 12 track LP was recorded live during a single days recording at RAK Studios in London which has been home to artists such as Robert Plant, Foo Fighters and Tom Jones.

It was recorded with Richard Woodcraft, who has worked with the likes of Radiohead and The Last Shadow Puppets, and Villagers’ live engineer Ber Quinn.

Conor O’ Brien released a note via Twitter explaining the purpose of the new release. He writes:

“My favourite songs to sing are the ones that can be taken to different places depending on the mood of the day. Often these changes are subtle but sometimes they require more seismic shifts. Here is a days recording that reflects this. I hope you enjoy.”

The intensity of the album was captured brilliantly thanks to the incredible talent of the musicians in the room. The fact that all the tracks were recorded either on the first or second take, without the use of any studio wizardry, adds to the magic. The stripped back arrangement of the music combined with Conor O’ Brien’s beautiful and haunting lyrics has made this one of the most exciting releases from an Irish act in a long time.

To see some of this magic happen live, be sure to catch Villagers on one of four Irish concert dates later this month.

You can listen to Where Have You Been All My Life on Spotify and iTunes.

Jack Brophy

Follow Jack on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JF_Brophy