Jose Gonzalez - Vestiges & Claws

Once a microbiologist and now one of the most ethereal voices of indie-folk for our generation, Jose Gonzalez is back with a new album.

It’s hard to believe the Swedish singer-songwriter started out playing in a hardcore punk band in the streets of Gothenburg, before finding his signature sound. Nowadays, the influences of Simon & Garfunkel meets Nick Drake and Elliott Smith are more prevalent than the earlier days of Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys.

Gonzalez reached mainstream recognition for his collection of covers including, Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop' and fellow Swedes, The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats', so it’s been a long time coming for a solid album of original content.

Vestiges and Claws is just that. The first solo album since 2007’s hit In Our Nature cements his credibility as a proficient singer-songwriter. This album contains years of scratching and sketching pieced together with strong American folk rock influences.

Vestige and Claws is filled with familiar acoustic licks, dreamy vocals, but is slightly heavier on production, with the added use of backing vocals and more structured beats. The soft hand claps in 'Afterglow' and the whistle on 'Open Book' add an additional warmth to an otherwise simplified song structure. “Vissel” shows great restraint on the acoustic guitar, and the ability to sit back and let the lyrics speak for themselves. One gets the notion that Gonzalez is open to evolving his poetic sound with more variations of texture and layers. Songs such as ‘The Forest’ show crafted composition with the use of wood wind instruments, floating effortlessly behind the melody and guitar.

Whilst Gonzalez clearly is a modern day poet, the receptive soundscapes do start to wear thin further into this album, suggesting that something still needs to be added in order to captivate the listener further. One might suggest this album plays well as background music, or in a chilled late night after partying environment. His voice certainly allows for an easily palatable sound that doesn't feel abrasive or offend. That being said he has the potential to be held in high regard by his contemporaries in modern folk with further evolution.
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