For the last two years over in the U.K., Dublin’s Conor J. O’Brien has been making a name for himself under the moniker Villagers, performing solo and with a backing band in support of artists like Neil Young, Tracy Chapman, and Tindersticks. While his legion of fans continues to grow, so does the heap of praise piled on by critics. In fact, Villagers’ debut, Becoming a Jackal, released this Spring on Domino Records, was nominated last month for the prestigious Mercury Prize. Recently, Conor has been touring the U.S., performing more stripped down versions of his lushly produced songs to new audiences. The reaction to his acoustic set for KEXP at the Caffe Vita Bean Room during the Capitol Hill Block Party was nothing short of amazement. Whether it’s in the water, the whiskey or the willowy air, Ireland has produced some of the best and most emotionally impacting songwriters — Damien Rice and The Frames’ Glen Hansard come to mind — and it won’t be long before Conor O’Brien is considered among them.
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