New Music Monday: José González
Seven years after his last solo album and two years after his last release with Junip, José González has returned with a new record, Vestiges & Claws.
Recorded at González’s home in Gothenbourg, Sweden and Svenska Grammofonstudion, Vestiges & Claws feels homemade in the best way. The record is comprised of years’ worth of musical sketches that González has put together masterfully.
González produced Vestiges & Claws alone, with a specific aesthetic in mind. The artist noted, “I didn’t want this to be too polished, or too ‘in your face.’…I was inspired by and picked up a lot of tricks from the producers I have worked with in the past. I like to use distortion and let things be a little overdriven, which gives things a warmer sound. Sometimes people complain that my music is too muddled, but I really do not want a modern crisp sound. I’d much rather aim somewhere between Shuggie Otis and Simon & Garfunkel.”
Though González originally intended to mine the same minimalist vein that his previous records, Veneer and In Our Nature, had, the songs on Vestiges & Claws called for added guitars, beat-like production, and more backing vocals.
In its lyrics, the album investigates classic themes like civilization, life’s brevity, and human solidarity. Tracks vary in their directness, from explicitly questioning on “What Will” to the more impressionistic “Leaf Off/The Cave.”
Regardless of which track you’re talking about Vestiges & Claws reveals a new side of José González’s talent and aesthetic. As González himself puts it, Vestiges & Claws is about “The amazing fact that we are here at all, an aim to encourage us to understand ourselves and to make the best of the one life we know we have — after birth and before death.”