Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Record Label: Jagjaguwar Records
Release Date: February 19, 2008
Dim the lights and close the blinds. Lock yourself into the intricately personal sounds of For Emma, Forever Ago. Cringe a little bit because I’m the poor fool who’s going to incorrectly analyze songs as pure as the human heart. Pretend I’m intellectually prepared to discuss lines like “So apropos / Saw death on a sunny snow.” Disregard anything I say that seems faulty, odd or lackluster. Believe in yourself and the true meaning of Bon Iver; you’re right. Relax while feeling on edge. Drift in and out of consciousness with expectations of newfound layers. Appreciate.
Justin Vernon. Vernon, Justin. Bon Iver. How had I been so cruel and deleted, nay, doubted your work so long ago? Was I at so lackluster a musical state that I couldn’t appreciate the drum segues of “Creature Fear” into the soulful grooves of “Team?” What made me cast aside the folky acoustic guitars of “Flume?” The dense orchestrations fit so wonderfully with Vernon’s high-pitched, full-bodied vocal layers. How did I not cherish them?! I’ve forgiven myself, but I’m still embarrassed. Talking about it helps, as does listening to the sparse-to-uplifting chaos of “The Wolves (Act I and II).” The song follows a timeline of anguish. Long, acoustic strums and achy vocals mimic our disbelief; the gospel-lite vocals are hopeful horizons; the building, rumbling drums are a returning confidence; the painfully quiet outro has us back to square one, sleeping alone in a bed made for two.
“For Emma” and “Re: Stacks” bring the album to its completion in a satisfying fashion. Burgeoning horns and abnormally happy guitar strums make “For Emma” a song for the transition from winter to spring. Vernon’s voice borders on chipper and full-fledged orchestral pop becomes yet another style Vernon masters. “Re: Stacks” stands alone like its creator. A frigid mood will have you picturing Vernon shivering as he sings “This is pouring rain / This is paralyzed.” Hushed melodies and large atmospheres continually manipulate the size and scope of For Emma, Forever Ago, but on this song Vernon’s deception is complete. Despite it all, despite the isolation, despite the unending echoes, For Emma, Forever Ago is a happy record. It’s a triumph gift wrapped personally for each and every one of us. Learn from it with a smile.
One man becomes a band of 10. One man becomes the embodiment of lonely productivity. Whatever made me initially disregard For Emma, Forever Ago has thankfully passed. Since reacquiring the record, it’s been a constant period of reflection and discovery. Music has a lot to live up to this year.
Recommended If You Like: Neil Young's "A Man Needs A Maid," David Karsten Daniels, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, wood, snow, crows, simplicity, Smog, fog
don't hate me, but i missed his visit to my town last month...
I can't hate you... I can only pity you...
I also missed him last time he was here. He came a few weeks ago and I was supposed to be getting a press pass and interview. Unfortunately the venue didn't give Bon Iver's management any passes, so I was shafted and the concert sold out. I did however see him back in October before I knew who he was. It was just him without his band in a small theater that wasn't even full. Super intimate, super awesome. I was blown away, and this was before I had ever heard of him or heard his music.
I also refused to skip class to interview him when that was the only time they would give me. So, don't hate me...