José González – Vestiges & Claws (Album Review)

Swedish singer-songwriter José González hasn’t released an album in seven years, but his latest release makes up for that long time in between. This album is rather simple, but he still makes it into a complex work of art. There’s no denying that this guy is talented and it’s all the more impressive that he completed this album mostly on his own. Of course he had help from others, but more specifically, he didn’t work with any producers and ended up getting complete artistic control. Filled with beautiful images track after track, this is an album that you don’t want to miss out on.

“I feel just like an open book, exposing myself in this neighborhood,” sings González on this heartbreaking track, “Open Book.” It’s not overly pop, it just has this general peaceful vibe to it. It doesn’t have anything extra going on and the music is basic, but the heart is far from it. This is one of my personal favorite tracks because it has such catchy and clever lyrics that take you by surprise.

“With The Ink Of A Ghost” is probably the track on this album that’s filled with the most imagery. González paints such a clear and sad picture for his listeners. He sings lines like, “Idle as a wave, moving out to sea. Cruising without sound, moulding what’s to be,” which are vivid and haunting. I love the overall theme of this album. He’s known for his heart wrenching breakup songs, but these are on an even more complex level which is all the more intriguing to listen to.

The artists song “Every Age” has lyrics that fail to stand out on paper, but it’s a different story when you listen to it. Hearing his beautiful yet heartbroken tone of voice is just really powerful to hear. Lines like, “Every age has its turn, every branch of the tree has to learn,” make a difference on how the song is able to affect its listeners.

“Stories We Build, Stories We Tell,” is a very repetitive song, which is part of what makes it so striking to listen to. You can tell what point González is trying to make, he’s clearly in pain as he shares and creates this story for his audience. The song generally fits so well with the others, they are all about loneliness and stories, as they each consist of many images. My favorite line in this song is by far, “Don’t believe in karma or hell, but in the memories and stories we build.” In my opinion, this is a great representation of the album as a whole and it’s a beautiful addition to the album in general.

It’s safe to say this is a truly wonderful album that I definitely recommend. It might seem too somber and slow for the summer time weather that’s now sitting in, but it’s still one to listen to regardless of the season. It’s one you’ll definitely need to be a little (or more like a lot) sad for, but it’s worth it. Talented guys like González don’t come around too often, but I’m grateful when they do.

Review written by Rachel Geiger.

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