Jose Gonzalez Vestiges and Claws
  • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015

  • Posted by: Camille Fantasia

Jose González has a way of pulling out whatever needs to be brought out of you. He may be an accomplished and recognizable musician but he's really more of a poet. This week he released his third album, Vestiges & Claws, and it's pure bliss. If you need to cry, it'll make you cry. If you need to feel peaceful, it'll make you peaceful. If you need to feel uplifted, it'll lift you up. There's a meditative quality to the lyrics, gently layered over his simple, solo acoustic guitar that's reminiscent of the late Nick Drake or Eliot Smith. It speaks the same language as an even more contemporary Bon Iver, or updated Iron & Wine.

Some of the songs on Vestiges & Claws are like a daydream you feel lucky to eavesdrop in on. On "Leaf Off/The Cave," he repeats "Let the light lead you out," almost like a mantra or a line by Rumi or Khalil Gibran. Every repetition is more and more entrancing, pulling you further into his gorgeously envisioned world. Lines like, "all tracks lead you to the stars," are equally beautiful as they are haunting.

There's nothing superficial about this music, he's searching for truth, searching for "What it means to be alive." A soft flute adds to the whimsical landscape González creates in "The Forest." "Why didn't I see the forest on fire behind the trees?" Like much of his other music, the song feels organic yet cloaked with some kind of otherworldly aura. It's the sense that nothing is as it seems, and yet it's exactly as it seems.

Other songs feel more rooted, like "Every Age" on which reflective lines like "Take your time/Build a home" are layered over simple guitar chords. The repetition in "Let It Carry You" builds with a faster tempo that climaxes with the line "The beauty of being here at all."

There's something about the marriage of the intimacy in his voice and the simplicity of his guitar that makes the experience of listening to González truly transcendent. Music like this is the closest thing we'll ever get to visiting the landscape of a mind outside our own. Vestiges & Claws is an echo. Each song is a sigh. There's great power in González's vulnerability.

Vestiges & Claws is out now on on Mute Records. Get your copy here, and watch the stunning real-life footage of space in the video for "Every Age," below:

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