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Bon Iver is an american indie-folk singer from Wisconsin, one of my most favourite artists in the past 5 years.
A couple of years ago the artist Bon Iver wrote and recorded the album "For Emma For Ever Ago'. This is simply one of my most favourite albums I own, the beautiful melodic tones of the artist resound in your thoughts. The album is full of emotion and you can literally feel his pain as he sings about the experiences he encountered all in the name of love. I would honestly recommend this album to anyone, it's simply a beautiful folk record which he apparently recorded in a cabin in canada. The vocals are incredible and the songs are perfect to listen to on a warm summers night. The Cd is quite short; only consisting of 9 tracks, but each track flows effortlessly into the next; you could have this album on repeat all day long. The music is soothing and really ambient. If your unsure whether this artist is for you, then i would advise checking out his album for free on spotify or youtube and then possibly making a purchase. But please if you going to purchase the cd, don't buy a digital download; it's not an album you'd want to loose when your itunes account messes up. If you like artists like Jose Gonzalez, frightened rabbit then you're definitely going to like this.
If you've never heard of the artist then i'd advise checking out these tracks first:
1. Skinny Love
2. The Wolves (Act I and II)
I had missed out on this album for a few months after its release, finding uninspired by the odd single track floating on the net. It wasn't until a hard copy found its way into the bargain basement of some dreary megamusic store did I discover its magic.
I cannot stress the plain joy you will find upon repeated listening, at first glance tracks like Skinny Love and Flume stand out with mesmorising fluid vocals that appear to flow like a tide matching against modesy accompaniment like the dobro's glistening rattle as it prises out undeniably catchy hooks from what appears to be nothing of substance.
For myself the real treat was developing a keene love for the really great gems, Wolves is really the song that makes Bon Iver special. The single drawn out chords build and build, mr bon iver's voice creeping tentatively into the mix. It finally breaks out, well in that now distinctive bon iver way, drums pound with guitars and voices wail in a terrific manner. Then all of sudden it slips away, the rustling hands work over the dying embers and its over.
After that song you don't need to review anymore, if you like this type of music he has you hook line and sinker when the wild wolves surround.
Once in a while an album comes along that truly knocks you off your feet, an album that genuinely makes you excited for music all over again. For Emma, Forever Ago is the newest addition to this elite list.
Long story short: musician type breaks up with girl, leaves band, goes to live in a cabin in the wood for a few months with a guitar and a tape recorder for company, surviving on what he's killed himself. If all this sounds grim believe me, you couldn't be further from the truth.
What Justin Vernon (for it is he, Bon Iver being the alias and loosely meaning "good winter" in French or somesuch) manages to do is make these songs sound like they were recorded decades ago, almost as if the tape had just been discovered. Its timelessness comes from the sparse arrangements; a banjo here, a vocal there, occasionally a stomping beat to carry things along, but the key throughout is time. Take Wolves for example, it doesn't rush itself and the gospel edge makes you feel privileged to be privy to such raw beauty.
Lump Sum has a driven, pace hidden by subtle melody and a warm vocal, you can almost hear the crackling of the fire as he recorded it. Its urgency is disguised by the emotive delivery, the falsetto here is just gorgeous. Indeed its Vernon's vocals that keep this collection on the special side. For such a versatile singer it's commendable that he kept the songs themselves simple, walking rather than sprinting.
Most of the songs are free of any particular structure, instead just floating around in their own comfort, gleefully flaunting the rules. Creature Fear ambles along on its bare bones before a glorious chorus catches you completely off kilter and you're rewarded with that voice again. Even the title track, despite being a single, just meanders off on its own path towards the end. Vernon clearly isn't writing from a commercial point of view, he's simply making music the way he wants to.
Don't be fooled into thinking that at a mere nine tracks this album is a pushover though, its anything but. It's like gradually opening the door to a darkened room and adjusting your eyes to the light. The further you venture inside the more you see and the warmer you get, and ultimately the longer you want to stay in there.
In an era best remembered (or forgotten?) as the period where every defunct band on the planet reformed, Justin Vernon reminds you that originality is still up for grabs. Do not let this album pass you by.
Ive heard of Bon Iver quite some time before the country went mental (courtesy of Mr. Colin Murray) and everyone started loving them, so for the most part, Ive escaped the super-hype up about them.
This is one of the reasons why when I say that this is a good album, I really mean it. Away from all the pressures of the newly anointed Bon Iver fans, I plan to make my judgement.
For Emma, Forever Ago, is, I believe, one of the best albums I've listened to. It's just so heart-wrenchingly sad! You can really feel the isolation of the cold cabin that Justin Vernon has endured to make this what it is. This album really gets to me. Whenever I listen to this, I can feel the the cold, the snow, the nothingness all around.
The absolute beauty of this album is the simplicity. Tracks such as Lump Sum and Flume excert no demonstrations of technical manipulation. They are just songs, plain and simple, laid bare like the branches of the trees in the winter. In fact, the entire album is like that. Just a few overlaying vocals (well, alot in the case of The Wolves), maybe some drums and brass instruments, and of course, the guitar.
The lyrics are also sheer brilliance, though sometimes difficult to make out. "Only love is all maroon/ Blue in feathers on the flume/ Sky is womb and she's the moon" is a personal favourite, also "And I told you to be patient/ I told you to be kind/ I told you to be (belous?)/ I told you to fine"
There is just so much in this album. When I first got it, I couldnt stop listening to it. Now, several months down the line, I still listen to it all the time. I admit, it might not be to everyones tastes, and many wont really enjoy it as I have, but it is well worth trying out. This album could be the best that you've ever bought.
Bon Iver's debut album is one of those albums which came out of nowhere and created a massive impact on the music scene. Many people love this album and I can definately see why. Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) isolated himself in a wood cabin, living day to day, hunting for his own food while creating this album. He needed to catch up with what was going on his head and it created this amazing album.
Although some of the music is rather simple acoustic chords, what Bon Iver is really going for here is atmosphere. Where quiet noises are more important than loud ones, where huge vocal harmonies appear from nowhere to create musical bliss.
I am lucky enough to be seeing Bon Iver live in the next month, he has now formed together a band to tour with him, and from what i've seen these album tracks are translating onto the live stage very well.
In a time of multi-million pound music videos, TV talent shows and ex stars trying to sell us car insurance, reaffirmation in music is sometimes difficult to find. Occasionally a record comes long that makes you remember why you fell in love with music in the first place. Welcome to Bon Iver
Essentially the work of one man, holed up in a cabin with an acoustic guitar - This is as far from a marketing mans dreams as you could get. The instrumentation here is spider-web brittle, sparse waves of guitar and fragile vocals all we get to focus on. Close your eyes and you're transported, sitting around a camp fire, holding hands with a new love, the stars in the sky you're only company.
The standouts here are 'Skinny Love' (which encapsulates the whole album into its 4 minutes) and Creature Fear - The latter of which is as upbeat as it gets.
If you enjoy the work of Jose Gonzalez or Iron & Wine, there are many riches for you here.
Justin Vernon's debut album has created waves throughout the music industry and has brought Americana sharply into focus again.
The story of him retreating to his father's log cabin in rural Wisconsin has now enetred musical folklore. Band breaks up. Relationship with girlfriend breaks up. What to do? Grab a guitar, an 8-track recording machine and disappear from society for a few months.
This album tells that tale and it's surely the sound of a man trying to fix his broken heart.
Sparse acoustics, lots of echo and Vernon's strained voice dominate here, and the opener 'Flume' takes you right to the core of this album. Delicately played and delicately sung, you know right away that you're not going to play this before heading out on a Saturday night.
'Skinny Love' is short on chords but big on scorned lyrics, with Vernon cursing a doomed liason "Now all your love is wasted, well then who the hell was I?", he wails.
'Team' is one of the few tracks to employ drums and the only one without vocals. The baseline is beautifully infectious, though, and is the centrepiece of the track.
The album's closer, 'Re:Stacks', is a fitting one, a stunning, tear-jearking piece of acoustic work, with the singer coming to accept his loss and preparing to move on.
For anyone who has ever had their heart broken, this album will speak volumes. In fact, fans of singer-songwriters in general will lap this up.
There's been a copy of this floating about the flat for a few months now but I ignored it till this week, as Mr Neenaw buys a lot of CD's on a whim and a fad, sticks them on his iPod and I'm never bothered by them again.
However, since seeing this show up at number 1 on several publications' top CD's of 2008 I thought I'd give it a go and... what a disappointmenet!
It's not bad, it's not annoying (I almost wish it was!) it's just mildly pleasant and a bit nothingy.
The sound, achieved by one-man-band Justin Vernon holing up in a cabin in Wisconsin for a winter is gentle Americana (as if someone had holed up in a cabin in Wisconsin for a winter...). Vernon plays all instruments, it's acoustic-guitar based with occasional electric guitar and horns on the periphery. Vocals are muted with quite nice harmonies and frequent forays into falsetto (which actually works OK).
I'm clearly missing something here, but I just don't see how anyone could care about it enough to put it anywhere near their top 10 of anything. But at least it doesn't make me want to drown things like Coldplay...
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Lump Sum
3 Skinny Love
4 The Wolves (Act I and II)
6 Creature Fear
8 For Emma