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Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. VincentJosé González

Vestiges and Claws


Feb 13, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent Bookmark and Share

You’d be forgiven for thinking Swedish singer/songwriter José González has been taking it easy since he released his delicately constructed, critically acclaimed sophomore album In Our Nature in 2007, his most recent record as a solo act. But in the intervening years, González has branched further outside his wheelhouse of lush, acoustic ballads, keeping busy immersing himself in collaborations like Junip, the electro-folk duo he founded with fellow Swede/multi-instrumentalist Tobias Winterkorn, production work, and soundtrack contributions for films like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

And now, after an eight-year wait, González returns to his solo work with Vestiges and Claws, a self-produced record that represents years of sketches and songs that have been culled and polished between projects. And from the sound of it, González has pared down the type of electronically tinged-folk he made with Junip over two albums and four EPs while simultaneously filling out the relatively sparse template he established on his first two solo records. The resulting album’s gorgeous collection of slow-burning compositions bristle with measured but fascinating production touches that reflect González’s renewed creative energy.

On the surface, lead single “Every Age” sounds similar to the echo-laden torch songs of his earlier solo work, but by the track’s final third, a reverberating snare drum evolves from a foggy, ethereal impression into a sharp, resounding exclamation point as González slowly builds to the song’s apex. It’s a subtle effect that suggests a new dimension to González’s songwriting, providing his fragile folk with a stiffer spine of rhythm and willingness to tinker with the DNA of what made his solo work so compelling in the first place. Vestiges and Claws is a succinct evolution for José González and his solo work, an album that promises much more for the next stage of his career. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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