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Becoming a Jackal

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Editors’ Notes

Recording under the nom de plume Villagers, Conor J. O’Brien makes his solo debut with a richly textured folk-pop album filled with visionary lyrics and haunting minor-key melodies. An introspective troubadour with a romantic streak, he combines the longing spirit of Jens Lekman with Paul Simon’s urbanite angst. What gives Becoming a Jackal its spark is O’Brien’s gift for telling stories without dispelling their poetic mystery. Tracks like “That Day,” “The Meaning of the Ritual” and the title song paint unsettling pictures of desire and betrayal, framing them in evocative acoustic-slanted arrangements. O’Brien probes the nature of relationships with a subtle pen in the buoyant “The Pact (“I’ll Be Your Fever)” and the tropical “Set the Tigers Free.” “I Saw the Dead” pulses with prog-rock grandeur, while “Ship of Promises” sails high upon baroque-pop strings. O’Brien’s winsome tenor voice gives him the air of a pilgrim seeking truth in a confused and corrupted world and he emerges as a one-man band to be reckoned with by the end of this outstanding album.

Customer Reviews

Promise of greatness

Conor J. O'Brien must be one of the most talented young singers in Europe today. His musicality makes me even want to start invoking the overused words "genius" and "unique." Bittersweet songs driven home with young energy. Give it a listen.

Becoming a Jackal

A voice and lyrics that stand out. Absorbing and unforgettable - with no pose, glamor or noise. Fresh and bewitching sincerity and seriousness. Painfully poetic.


The sound of some of the tracks reminds me of The Beatles.


Formed: 2008 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Villagers, a solo vehicle for Irish singer/songwriter Conor J. O'Brien, specializes in atmospheric, indie folk/chamber pop that balances the youthful exuberance of contemporaries Jens Lekman, Eugene McGuinness, and Johnny Flynn with the classic rock and pop of artists like Paul Simon and Robert Wyatt. Formed in the late 2000s after the breakup of his band the Immediate, O’Brien began writing his own, solo material. A four-track EP appeared in 2009 and was performed entirely by the Irishman. He soon...
Full Bio
Becoming a Jackal, Villagers
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Customer Ratings