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José González|Vestiges & Claws

Vestiges & Claws

José González

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Swedish folksinger José González's third full-length album, 2015's Vestiges & Claws, is a deceptively uncomplicated, poetic, and utterly poignant work. Coming seven years after his last album, the superb and similarly introspective In Our Nature, Vestiges & Claws finds González in a deeply thoughtful state of mind ruminating over such timely albeit universal themes as religion vs. science, the relatively brief length of our lives on Earth, and the heartbreaking complexities of human relationships. Largely recorded at his home studio, with final touches done at the Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, the album features González singing and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar with a spare amount of backing percussion, flute, and vocals throughout. While that might sound limiting, González is a musical universe unto himself, employing a fluid fingerpicking style that can sound as tiny as a whisper one second and as big as an orchestra the next. He also writes songs with a such a gorgeous harmonic palette, full of dichotomous suspended chords and lush minor/major juxtapositions, that your ears are never hungry for musical nourishment. Drawing, as he has done in the past, upon such '60s and '70s influences as Nick Drake, Robert Wyatt, and others, González often sounds like an echo of the past, while his lyrical subject matter remains utterly current. Just as he supplies plenty of instrumental food for thought, González proffers an abundance of substantive, existential lyrics. These are incredibly moving songs full of bittersweet asides that strike you at first with their haiku-like simplicity, only to draw you deeper into González's iceberg of ideas. And while he addresses these ideas explicitly in "What Will," questioning "What will it be? Our legacy/Faith in dogma or reasoning," elsewhere he is more imagistic and opaque. On "Leaf Off/The Cave," he turns the biblical Adam and Eve story upon itself, singing "Why can't you/Take the leaf off your mouth/Now that you/Have the facts on your side/Take a moment to reflect who we are." Ultimately, it's this ability to stop you in your tracks and hold you with the warmth of his voice as you contemplate your existence that makes Vestiges & Claws such an arresting, uplifting joy.
© Matt Collar /TiVo

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Vestiges & Claws

José González

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1
With the Ink of a Ghost
00:05:19

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

2
Let It Carry You
00:05:34

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

3
Stories We Build, Stories We Tell
00:03:25

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

4
The Forest
00:03:20

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

5
Leaf off / The Cave
00:04:54

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

6
Every Age
00:03:11

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

7
What Will
00:06:27

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

8
Vissel
00:03:45

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

9
Afterglow
00:03:42

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

10
Open Book
00:02:41

Jose Gonzalez, Composer, Lyricist, Performer

2015 Imperial Recordings. Distributed by Playground Music Scandinavia AB

Album Description

Swedish folksinger José González's third full-length album, 2015's Vestiges & Claws, is a deceptively uncomplicated, poetic, and utterly poignant work. Coming seven years after his last album, the superb and similarly introspective In Our Nature, Vestiges & Claws finds González in a deeply thoughtful state of mind ruminating over such timely albeit universal themes as religion vs. science, the relatively brief length of our lives on Earth, and the heartbreaking complexities of human relationships. Largely recorded at his home studio, with final touches done at the Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, the album features González singing and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar with a spare amount of backing percussion, flute, and vocals throughout. While that might sound limiting, González is a musical universe unto himself, employing a fluid fingerpicking style that can sound as tiny as a whisper one second and as big as an orchestra the next. He also writes songs with a such a gorgeous harmonic palette, full of dichotomous suspended chords and lush minor/major juxtapositions, that your ears are never hungry for musical nourishment. Drawing, as he has done in the past, upon such '60s and '70s influences as Nick Drake, Robert Wyatt, and others, González often sounds like an echo of the past, while his lyrical subject matter remains utterly current. Just as he supplies plenty of instrumental food for thought, González proffers an abundance of substantive, existential lyrics. These are incredibly moving songs full of bittersweet asides that strike you at first with their haiku-like simplicity, only to draw you deeper into González's iceberg of ideas. And while he addresses these ideas explicitly in "What Will," questioning "What will it be? Our legacy/Faith in dogma or reasoning," elsewhere he is more imagistic and opaque. On "Leaf Off/The Cave," he turns the biblical Adam and Eve story upon itself, singing "Why can't you/Take the leaf off your mouth/Now that you/Have the facts on your side/Take a moment to reflect who we are." Ultimately, it's this ability to stop you in your tracks and hold you with the warmth of his voice as you contemplate your existence that makes Vestiges & Claws such an arresting, uplifting joy.
© Matt Collar /TiVo

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