Bon Iver – Bon Iver

January 01, 1970



Since the
release of For Emma, Forever Ago in
2007, spring has sprung and continues to brilliantly bloom for Bon Iver’s
Justin Vernon with his self-titled sophomore album. Emerging from the wintery,
snow-covered shadows of the Wisconsin cabin
where the majority of his debut release was recorded, Bon Iver still maintains the acclaimed acoustic isolation that
critics initially swooned over, yet this time, doesn’t rely on it.


By adding
several notable musicians (Colin Stetson and C.J. Camerieri on horns, Greg
Leisz on pedal-steel) to what is now a full band, Vernon creates a rich, melodic depth that
demonstrates a positive departure from his previous acoustic dependency. The
new arrangement lines up almost seamlessly with the overall lyrical tone of the
album, as Vernon’s
soft, falsetto cry (drawing apt comparisons to TV on the Radio’s Tunde
Adebimpe) seems to echo a universal internal struggle and longing for escape
from oneself.


“Climb / is all
we know/ when thaw / is not below us / no, can’t grow up / in that iron ground”
(from “Wash.”) and “Resting in a raze the inner claims I hadn’t breadth to
shake / Searching for an inner clout, may not take another bout” (from
“Michicant”), both cast Vernon as an observer to this human condition, as
opposed to the soliloquy-driven performer in For Emma.


But akin to For Emma, Bon Iver breaks the listener’s heart. And to experience an album
(an oft-dreaded sophomore album, no less) that evokes such deep emotion is a
welcomed pain. It also feels ethereal and fragile though, and it just flat out sounds like winter (the wind chimes in “Perth” are especially reminiscent of slowly
drifting snow flurries); and, in the depth of a sweltering New York summer, it almost
makes one long for the seasonal depression that winter can bring – if, for
nothing else, the forced solitude and introspection that Vernon has brilliantly broken through with
this musical maturation.


And as the
artist’s namesake roughly translates, Bon
is indeed, a “good winter.”


DOWNLOAD: “Perth,”
“Holocene,” “Towers,” “Michicant” PARRY ERNSBERGER




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