His debut reinvented the conventional idea of a guy and his guitar. A falsetto and 3 winter months in a cabin in the woods was what Justin Vernon needed to transform himself into Bon Iver (a name inspired by a French phrase meaning “good winter”). With his new self-titled release he expands his reach beyond the sounds of the guitar and manages to break through expectations once again.
As you may assume, a guy alone in the mountains produces songs that convey the loneliness and isolation that one is bound to feel. The ambience that is created by the quiet, natural surroundings makes its way into the music and Vernon’s distinct falsetto swells and falls and entwines the listener in his labyrinth of memories. His music translates as being less folk and more mountain man lament.
With his second release Vernon has approached the music as an artist in every sense of the word. He is conscious of the message he is sending artistically instead of just making something that sounds nice. In a way it is very much like that piece of art hanging in the museum that draws you in; it isn’t symmetrical or full of bright, sunny colors typically pleasing to the eye, yet you find it irresistible. Lyrics are chosen more for the sound they make instead of the story they tell and the music is broader with more ambitious arrangements.
If you take a chance on just one unconventional artist, I implore you to make that artist Bon Iver.
If you like: Iron & Wine, Maxwell, Fleet Foxes
Check out: Bon Iver (start with For Emma, Forever Ago, continue with the Blood Bank EP and graduate to Bon Iver)
Feeling brave: Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles
AI level: Advanced