Bon IverAlbum |
One-time woodland minstrel conquers the world.
Since wowing the independent music world with his beautiful 2007 debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon has proven to be a rare talent; he's even managed to break out of the blog-powered underground with his guest appearances alongside Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj on Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Emma was a cold weather album in the truest sense, hushed and overcast, written and recorded, as the story goes, in a secluded cabin in the dead of winter. His second offering is just as stark and emotional, yet bears enough guitar jangle and sonic warmth to make it his true summer record. Throughout the ten songs, Vernon manages to wield his otherworldly falsetto like an extra instrument, flat-out murdering the melodies to "Perth" and "Towers" as if the dubsteppy soul crooning of James Blake was somehow melded with the most heartfelt Elliott Smith-inspired folk sorcery. Bon Iver's sublime five-minute closer, "Beth/Rest" showcases how far the DIY songwriter has come, with its shimmering arrangement of keys, gently cresting waves of steel guitar and jazzy horn flourishes. Vernon's sophomore effort is more than a solid follow-up to a heavily praised debut: it elevates the bar not just for himself, but for the contemporary indie rock scene in general.