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Villagers - That Golden Time
Villagers - That Golden Time

Villagers - That Golden Time

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10/05/24

Following the kaleidoscopic adventure of Villagers’ fifth album Fever Dreams, award-winning Dublin singer-songwriter-instrumentalist-dramatist Conor O’Brien returns with the intimate inventory, That Golden Time.

After the band-centred sessions of its predecessor, That Golden Time’s solo-centric core was not forced on O’Brien by lockdown. “For me, That Golden Timehas an internalised voice, so much so that I almost found it impossible to let anyone else in,” he says. “It’s probably the most vulnerable album I’ve made. I played and recorded everything in my apartment, and finally, towards the end, invited people in.” Invites went out to, among others, Irish legend Dónal Lunny [Planxty, The Bothy Band] on bouzouki, American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick on violin, and a group of players that O’Brien had first seen performing in a tribute to one of his great loves, Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who added soprano vocal, viola and cello.

The understated poetry within That Golden Time is effortlessly carried by gorgeous melodies and sublime instrumentation. In “No Drama”, as the narrator pleads for respite from the vicissitudes of life, O’Brien equates an orchestral swell with an appeal for quiet beauty and peace. “Behind That Curtain” is a rare moment of musical discombobulation as a solemn, soulful ballad hands over to a jazzy coda, “It’s the sound of deafening alarm bells inside your head,” remarks O’Brien. Exploring these themes further, there is also a secondary image of a coin on the artwork (an Irish twenty pence piece) to which O’Brien explains: “The types of physical currency change throughout time, but the essential power relationships and bartering principles persevere throughout the cosmetic changes.”

As the album comes to its conclusion with “Money On The Mind”, we find a moment of serenity with a ray of hope. The very last line, softly crooned, is “My money’s on the mind, truth be told,” a shout-out to the resilience of the human spirit. The moth might be disorientated, but it swerves the flame to live another day.

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