JOSE GONZALEZ — Vestiges & Claws

Album: Vestiges & Claws

Artist: Jose Gonzalez

Label: Mute

Release Date: February 17, 2015

Jose 2-17

www.mute.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Over the last few years, Jose’s Gonzalez’s solo career has been all but overshadowed by his efforts with the band Junip, which may, in the end, prove the vehicle for his big breakthrough. Which is all well and good; Gonzalez is an astute musician who deserves wider recognition however he can get it. Nevertheless, his individual albums ought not be overlooked, even though admittedly, they’ve been somewhat few, and far between.

That’s all the more reason to cheer the release of Vestiges & Claws, Gonzalez’s first full length offering since 2007 and an apt reminder of the seductive skills this Swedish-born artist possesses. His approach is subtle and sublime — meditative melodies anchored by acoustic guitar, bass and his rich, resonant vocals. On songs like “What Will” and “Open Book” he summons of the spirit of Nick Drake, a tack that’s not quite so unusual these days, but one that suggests he could be the late singer’s true heir apparent. Happily, Gonzalez isn’t mired in self-defeat and introspection like so many of his contemporaries; “Let It Carry You,” “Afterglow” and “Leaf Off/The Cave” are subdued but celebratory, particularly in the way guitar and bass manages to propel them forward.

It’s a cerebral, sometimes sinewy sound, but one which leaves a lasting impression regardless. It is, in a word, simply lovely.

 DOWNLOAD: “Open Book,” “What Will,” “Let It Carry You”

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