Saturday, April 12, 2008

José González: Veneer

Album Review: Born in Sweden the year his parents moved there from Argentina, this smooth singing singer-songwriter started out in hardcore and punk bands. Now, with this album, his first, released in 2003, I have to again get something out of the way: "Yes his cover of The Knife's 'Heartbeats' is spectacular, but so are three or four of his songs." Don't get me wrong, it's not like I wanted to skip parts of the album, but a few songs really stand out here, and "Heartbeats" is one of them. "Deadweight on Velveteen," and "Hints" rival his cover of "Heartbeats" for the best song here. The reason I am talking about the cover so much is because he made it wholly his own: rather than covering and trying to sound exactly like the covered, González took this song to a whole different place and then fiddled with it until it worked beautifully there. That is the genius of González: he is able to do so much in a limited one-dude and a guitar framework. Mostly though, his voice is the shinning diamond in this album. It is smooth and sultry and oh so beautiful. It keeps me coming back to this five year old album over and over again. It is just so relaxing and energizing at the same time. I don't know how he did it, but give the album a shot for yourself and see if you can figure it out.

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