Swedish folk musician José González returns next month with a new solo album, which promises to be both warmer and darker than previous releases, with themes that largely revolve around ideas of civilisation, humanism and solidarity.
Vestiges & Claws, his third album, will be released on 17 February (via Mute/Imperial Recordings; for pre-sale orders go here). It has been just over seven years since his last solo record and, in that time, he has been busy with his band Junip and contributing to the soundtrack of the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, amongst other things.
Now comes this new record, which González opted to produce the album himself. He waived the principle of having everything on the album reproducible in a live context, as he comments in the press release, ‘I’ve focused more on the role of being a producer this time around. I’ve spent more time thinking of what’s best for the song and the recording.’
Broader universal philosophy
With his striking songwriting style and a sound that remains solely his own, the ten tracks on this album dip into American folk rock and West African desert blues. The lyrics show González focusing on a broader universal philosophy, as he comments, ‘There is some sort of common thread on this new record: the zoomed-out eye on humanity on a small pale blue dot in a cold, sparse and unfriendly space. The amazing fact that we at all are here; an attempt at encouraging to understand ourselves and to make the best of the only life we have – after birth and before death.’
Certainly the video, and lyrics, to the first single taken from the album – ‘Every Age’ (which was released in November) – echo this philosophy. As we ease into the new year gently, this new beginning is also a good time for us to stop and reflect:
‘Every age has its turn, every branch of the tree has to learn
Learn to grow, find its way, make the most of this short lived stay
Take this seed, take this spade, take this dream of better day
Take your time, build a home, build a place where we all can belong.’
‘Taking time’ is as good a resolution as any in my book. Firstly, taking time to sit and listen, and then stopping to buy a ticket for one of the upcoming shows before they sell out.
Mon 9 Mar: Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg
Mon 16 Mar: Brussels, BE @ Cirque Royal
Vestiges & Claws – Released 17 February 2015:
01. With the Ink of a Ghost
02. Let It Carry You
03. Stories We Build, Stories We Tell
04. The Forest
05. Leap Off / The Cave
06. Every Age (single)
07. What Will
10. Open Book