Bon Iver

For Emma, Forever Ago

by Nina (July 2011)

In 5 Words or Less Poetry manifest.
Value Paid $9.99 » Worth $20
Affiliation with KNEW GEN None
Explicit? F-bomb once
Genre and Mood Singer–songwriter, indie, folk, borderline Americana; sounds like Ryan Adams (Love Is Hell Parts 1 and 2) meets M. Ward with a dash of Chris Martin.
Notable Tracks It's very possible that I was living under a rock in 2008 when this album came out but I recently listened to it for the very first time and I am a fan. The opening track “Flume” sets the overall sad and angelic tone of the album while “Lump Sum” and “The Wolves (Act 1 & 2)” transported me to a deserted, old, empty, single-room church with worn down pews in the middle of nowhere. Team”, one of the non-lyrical tracks, veers itself more toward the indie sound with heavier drums than the other tracks and sounds along the likes of a chilly Rachel’s track. “Skinny Love” is likely the catchiest of the tunes with a hypnotic chorus of my-my-my’s which I inevitably started to hum over and over again. Both “Blindsided” and “Re:Stacks” make you want to stare out the window on a rainy day and sigh and cry and sigh and cry some more (in a good way!). Every track is prayer-like and captures a sense of lesson-learned. The perfect album to get you through a broken heart, broken soul, broken body, broken brain - broken anything really.
Songwriting & Musicianship Bon Iver’s (Justin Vernon) lyrics are beautifully written and appropriately vague. Plenty of decent to good guitar, banjo, some horns and electric piano but the vocals are the greatest stand-out throughout the album. The multiple overdubs create charmingly imperfect layers and the reverb contributes well to the overall sound. It’s simple and full, not simple and empty as some indie music can sound. 
Production I'm sure it didn’t sound as clean before they mixed and mastered but this is a pretty well produced album for something that was recorded all by one person in a log cabin in Wisconsin in the dead of winter. Again, vocals balance sound fantastic.
What Else You Should Know Bon Iver recently put out a self-titled album and an EP back in 2009. Those reviews will come later but I just had to write something about For Emma, Forever Ago because it’s that good.

Contact Nina at nina@knewgeneration.com