I first heard of this band from a guy named Jeremy I met on a plane from Montreal to New York. I noticed that he was listening to Sufjan Stevens so we got to talking. Anyways, he told me about this band Bon Iver, and they have quickly grown on me to the point where I can’t stop listening to them.
The album is called For Emma, Forever Ago, and it was released in 2007, so it’s not really new, but hey it’s new to me!
Bon Iver is the solo project of Justin Vernon, who apparently recorded most of this album in the winter, when he moved to a remote cabin in the woods for 3 months. The name Bon Iver is obviously a weird way of saying “Bon Hiver”, which is French for “Good Winter”.
I first listened to this album in the car, which was a bad move. In order to appreciate this album you need to be alone, and your attention needs to be focused on the album. I suggest walking through a forest, or if you don’t have access to a forest, then simply walking through your city streets should be fine, especially on a cloudy day.
The album begins with the song “Flume” which has turned out to be one of my favourite, if not my favourite song on the album. It’s a perfect introduction to Bon Iver. Melancholy guitar strumming, leads into Vernon’s sad falsetto. Not only is this song beautiful and sad to listen to, but if you listen to the lyrics he uses wonderful alliterations,”Only love is all maroon, lapping lakes like leery loons, Leaving rope burns reddish ruse.”
In the song “The Wolves (Act I and II)”, the song again starts with simple, lonely guitar, and then what sounds like a choir begins singing. Of course this is just Vernon’s layered vocals, but it actually sounds like a choir of the most beautiful harmonies. This choir of Justin Vernon’s rhymes, “And the story’s all over you. In the morning I’ll call you. Can’t you find a clue when your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue.”
One of the saddest songs on the album is “Skinny Love” in which Vernon poetically tells a love story gone awry. “Come on skinny love just last the year” Vernon sings in his steady falsetto at the beginning of the song. You can hear the anger and desperation in his voice as he yells, “I told you to be patient, and I told you to be fine, and I told you to be balanced, and I told you to be kind, and in the morning I’ll be with you, but it will be a different kind, and I’ll be holding all the tickets, and you’ll be owning all the fines.” If this song doesn’t get to you, you are made of stone I say!
Bon Iver exemplifies what music is all about, an artist, all alone, doing whatever he feels like doing, not being pressured by anything or anyone. And the result of this is a simple, organic and beautiful album. In the song “re: stacks” he concludes by singing, “this is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization, It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away.”
1. Flume – favourite.
2. Lump Sum – kind of upbeat
3. Skinny Love – wow
4. The Wolves (Act I and II) – soulful and sad
5. Blindsided – nice vocal layering
6. Creature Fear – catchy
7. Team – nice instrumental track with some vocal harmonies and whistling
8. For Emma – great song, I hope she likes it.
9. re: stacks – amazing
Bon Iver performing “Flume” for a radio station: