Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Villagers

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight - Villagers

Back in 2010, while on a study abroad trip, I became slightly obsessed with Later… with Jools Holland. Instead of doing what little work was required of me during that semester (sorry Mom and Dad), I spent most of my downtime scouring the internet for videos from the late-night BBC Two show. It was during one of these trips down a YouTube rabbit hole that I discovered an unassuming, boyish solo performer who went by the name Villagers. To this day I distinctly remember sitting in my tiny London apartment, clicking onto the video for his performance of “Becoming A Jackal,” and immediately being drawn in. I was absolutely floored and in awe of how one man could command an audience with such a performance. His wild-eyed gaze was locked into the camera for nearly the whole song and his delivery of each word was so precise and deliberate that it made me feel like he was singing directly to me each time he repeated the song’s refrain, “I’m selling you my fears.” Of course now that Villagers has been added to the Newport Folk Festival lineup, and I have an excuse to blog about this 6 year-old video, it seemingly no longer exists on the internet…WHY ARE YOU SO CRUEL INTERNET?!

Since that fateful performance O’Brien has released two studio albums and another live record under the Villagers moniker. 2013’s {Awayland} saw O’Brien experiment with different sounds and arrangements whereas its follow-up, 2015’s Darling Arithmetic, was back to basics with most songs featuring only an acoustic guitar, piano, and O’Brien’s beautifully breathy vocals. Villagers is certainly an under the radar addition to this year’s lineup, but not one that should be under-appreciated. If anyone can find that video from Later… please, please, please post it in the comments, but until then the performance below will just have to do.

Posted on by Eric in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight

One Response to Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Villagers

  1. Dylan Galvin

    It’s interesting to hear him because I want to say he reminds of someone but I can’t really put my finger on who. I think he’s got one of those perfect combinations of influences and originality that makes him stand out to well. Thank you for this article!

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