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Genre: Indie Folk | Rating: 9.4 Stars

It’s hard to believe that For Emma, Forever Ago is the work of one man. With a bit of research, I found out that when Justin Vernon’s old band split he hauled himself to his dad’s hunting cabin in the woods of Wisconsin for the coldest season and worked through his issues in musical form. Bon Iver comes from the French translation “bon hiver” meaning “good winter”.

Upon hearing “Skinny Love“, probably the most accessible song on “For Emma, Forever Ago”, it was running through my head the rest of the week as I played it over and over again. It is inexplicably breathtaking a song. This should in no way denigrate or malign the rest of the album, which packs a surprising bunch. A few people, including my dad whom I asked to give a listen to give his review and he categorized it as “background music”. It would be easy to just treat “For Emma…” as one, but a careful listen reveals layers of melody overlaid by Justin Vernon’s impressive vocals.

The Wolves (Act I and II)” starts off slowly but builds into a powerful message at the album’s core.

The title track “For Emma” further embellishes on what might have been lost with a mixture of trumpet and strained guitar. The crooning of “Creature Fear” builds into the wonderfully moody instrumental “Team”.

Re: Stacks” rate as one of if not the most emotional songs of 2008. And this is an understatement. The guitar strumming is basic, but the vocal embellishment and understated sadness in Vernon’s voice is unmistakable. Very good song.

I’m afraid to listen to this record too much as I don’t ever want it’s brilliance to dim. Best thing I’ve heard in quite a while. Let’s see, Feist and Cat Power were the last artists that moved me like this, not that Bon Iver is anything like that and he’ll probably never be over played in trendy boutique, but there’s something so deep and soulful in the whisperings on this record. Mostly it’s quiet, mostly it’s chillingly beautiful.

I highly recommend this album–it’s subtle tones on first listen grow into sheer brilliance.

Tracklist (All tracks are A+) and Downloads

Lump Sum
Skinny Love
The Wolves (Act i and ii)
Creature Fear
For Emma
Re: Stacks

DOWNLOAD ALBUM (Recommended)