REVIEW: Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges & Claws

We know what you’re thinking. It’s the guy whose voice soundtracked the bouncing balls for that well-known electronics ad; the guy who covered Teardrop by Massive Attack, but whose interpretation wasn’t as fun as Newton Faulkner (yep, we went there); the guy who has released gorgeous songs like Crosses and Down the Line, and has been doing stellar work as part of Junip. What’s he doing back again in the Age of Sheeran?

Fans of Asgeir looking for another tenor-voiced man with a guitar should listen to this album immediately, because Jose Gonzalez was the Asgeir for the MySpace era. With ten tracks and his nylon-stringed guitar, Gonzalez was the guy to soundtrack dinner parties between 2005 and 2008. Crosses and Heartbeats, especially, showcased a delicious voice made of red velvet cupcakes and philosophical musings. The voice and the manifesto haven’t changed, if opener With the Ink of a Ghost is any indication.

Not just the notes but the space left between the notes is the appeal of Gonzalez. The Forest is gorgeous, especially after the pulsing rhythms of Stories We Build, Stories We Tell. Brilliant percussion is present on What Will, a six-minute long track that meanders in all the right ways and ends on some lovely chords from a spindly classical guitar line.

Vissel is a pretty instrumental where whistling stands in for lyrics, losing none of the song’s wistfulness. Expect to hear Open Book (“A couple of words is all it took”) on a teenage-indie film soundtrack soon, or covered by one of those delightful white boys on Youtube.

Even though we’re in the full-on thrall of people doing looping guitar parts and soft vocals, there’s no danger of Gonzalez sounding dated; in fact, it actually makes his minimalist style even more relevant and necessary today. Featherlight in approach but robust in delivery, it’s more than enough to forget ginger singer-songwriters (ginger-songwriters?) and once again have something to play at dinner parties that won’t make you chuck up your hummus.

Jonny Brick

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Jose Gonzalez - Vestiges & Claws
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