Not long after releasing “Darling Arithmetic”, Villagers return with a newish album. “Where Have You Been All My Life?” is an album of Villagers previous songs but recorded live in RAK studios in London over the space of one day and reimagined to keep in line with Conor O’Brien’s growth as a songwriter. The album offers up two new songs in the shape of the frankly sublime “Memoir” and a cover of “Wichita Lineman”.
“Courage” which featured on Darling Arithmetic is a fine example of the difference in this album and the previous. Yes it’s the same song but the differences are subtly obvious.
“Memoir” is a song that Conor originally wrote for Charlotte Gainsborough but thankfully he decided to include his own version here because as stated earlier, it is delightfully brilliant. The song has received plenty of radio play which usually leaves you kind of sick of a song but not in this case.
“The Waves” is as close as a lyrical masterpiece as you will find. Accompany the fantastic vocals with the stunning piano and you are treated to another great song from the mind of Conor O’Brien. It has a very Bob Dylan quality to it and can draw comparison with “The Hurricane”.
The album concludes with a cover version of the Jimmy Webb classic, “Wichita Lineman”. It’s a song that’s been covered countless times but this version can hold it’s own and is a nice addition to an album of previously released songs.
Conor O’Brien is a serious talent. While enjoying success though, he doesn’t seem to get the recognition that he deserves. The live element of this album really makes the songs take on a new beauty. The band of musicians have outdone themselves here. Every single note sounds perfect. It’s amazing to think that it was recorded in one day.