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After Conor O’Brien released ‘Darling Arithmetic’ earlier in 2015 – Villagers’ third album, and a record of acoustic, stripped-down folk – he found himself re-thinking the previous two records that made his name: a couple of LPs that were fully arranged and multi-layered, but no longer represented where he was at or how his touring live show sounded.

It lead to the Irish musician reflecting on what the first five years of Villagers have been about and inspired him to return to the core of his songs for this anthology of re-recorded, simplified tracks. Thus, O’Brien stopped at London’s RAK Studios to cut the new, intimate versions of his songs, each one in no more than a couple of takes, not to lose the feeling and heart of each composition. The result is quite incredible, and ‘Where Have You Been All My Life?’ feels more thought out and honest than a lazy ‘Villagers Unplugged’ record. Here we can feel the intense and heartfelt atmosphere of Villagers’ music, free from electronic stopgaps and excessive baroque scores.

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