Review: Album Of The Week – Darling Arithmetic – Villagers

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With two albums and two Mercury Prize nominations under his belt Conor O’Brien, who records as Villagers, is already a force to be reckoned with in popular music.

Now the young Irishman has deliverd his third album of indie folk.

Will he make it a hat-trick of shortlists for the UK’s top music prize? Well there is no obvious reason why not as this is a lovely album which cements his place in the front rank of singer/songwriters.

His splendid debut album Becoming A Jackal and it’s even better follow-up Awayland established him as a troubadour of rare ability.

For this album,Darling Arithmetic, he wrote, recorded, produced and mixed it at his home in the loft of a converted farmhouse in the coastal town of Malahide, north of Dublin.

The production is first class and so is the songwriting. O’Brien also plays all the instruments. This is a talented man.

Musically, it’s a more intimate album than his previous work, with his penchant for orchestral pop taking a back seat in favour of a more stripped back style.

He has penned beautiful songs (Courage, Everthing I Am Is Yours), full of passion and emotion about love and relationships. It is a work that holds its own against such masters of the craft as Bon Iver and John Grant.

In many ways Darling Arithmetic is an album more in the classical tradition of the singer/songwriter, but such is O’Brien’s skill it doesn’t feel like a step back.