Much acclaimed modern folk artist Bon Iver - aka Wisconsin native Justin Vernon - returns with his second album.
Though the wintry tones of 2008’s For Emma, Forever Ago are still close to our heart and 2009’s Blood Bank EP provided us with a welcome stop gap, we’ve been waiting impatiently for Justin Vernon’s sophomore record for what feels like an age. Happily, it was worth every moment.
This second, eponymous long player is immediately a much more lush and ornate affair than his debut but it doesn’t compromise the fragility that is key to the Bon Iver sound. This time around, the guitars are often more electrified, and fittingly for an album so wrapped up in ideas of place, this record has many more stamps on its sonic passport than the log cabin isolation soundtrack of For Emma, Forever Ago.
Throughout, Vernon has employed additional instrumentation with taste and originality, managing to retain a sense of both space and intimacy within complex arrangements. And as you might expect, those heartstring-tugging vocal harmonies are as potent as ever.
Minnesota, WI and Hinnom, TX are notable as they see Vernon break from his trademark falsetto into a rich baritone, while album closer Beth/Restis a real curveball that sounds like a cross between 1980s arena pop and incidental music from Twin Peaks recorded into a dictaphone. And that’s not something you hear every day. Chris Vinnicombe