Sorry for the late post, friends.
Bon Iver (pronounced "bohn eevair", like the French bon hiver, meaning "good winter") is the name taken by musician Justin Vernon. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin native's record, "For Emma, Forever Ago", was just released mid-February, and is striking.
I received the album on loan from my dear friend, who got it on loan from her exclusive man-friend. This man-friend, in addition to being a totally solid and positive person, has impeccable taste in music and loves to share. He gets three thumbs up.
The story behind this album is a fitting backdrop for a collection of songs that I see as both complex and austere, ghostly and visceral, lonely and warm. According to many a website, Vernon fled to his father's desolate Wisconsin cabin at the start of winter, seeking solace and simplicity after a band breakup. Armed with simple recording equipment, Vernon recorded all day between simple tasks like chopping wood. After 3 months, he emerged from the wilderness with the collection of songs now on the album. It is perfect and full of the kind of romanticism that throws me into a sweeping tailspin - an individual goes on solo "vision quest"-like period of isolation, and finds beauty in simple living. I need this.
What else better than the enveloping womb-like quality of the dense Wisconsin woods to cradle frustration? If you've ever walked through the thick, blue lit trees, and felt the amorphous, soft curves of snow-covered woods bend toward you, maybe you've felt the sense of support that the icy wilderness can lend. But despite the quiet support, it is still icy and foreign, and maybe a little isolating. A snowy embrace can be a lonely one.
I feel all of this in the album. I am a Wisconsinite that harbors the deepest love of woods and music, and I think this album shot into a particularly soft spot of my heart. The album is thick and orchestral, as dense as an uncut Wisconsin forest. But the songs are still incredibly simple and straightforward. Introspective and sweeping, this music hits me at my core. On his myspace, Vernon calls his music "neo-soul".
Picking a song is hard, as they are all incredibly beautiful, but I am featuring "Lump Sum". The ghostly vocal parts sometimes feel as light and delicately creeping as hoar frost on a window, at other times they seem to echo from a desolate cave. All the while, the percussive guitar rhythms are as rooted and honest as the tallest tree. It gives me goosebumps.
I hope you enjoyed it. XOXO Kim