Jose Gonzalez is one of those artists you have heard before, whether you know it or not. His songs work their way into daily life and are beautiful little creatures that seem to live and breathe and take on a completely unique existence of their own. In both his voice and guitar work there is fragility and tenderness closely akin to that which made Nick Drake so special. Jose Gonzalez makes little noise, opening up space within his songs to the point where it feels like a grand and at times breathtaking commotion. He may originate from Sweden, but his Argentinian ancestry seems more prevalent in some of the music than his Scandanavian side. His lyrics in gentle English open up pools of pleasure to the listener.
The fascinatingly titled ‘With The Ink of A Ghost’ opens this latest record, and at once provides a window to another land. It’s otherworldly folk that is clear, striking and truly lovely. His guitar playing means little other instrumentation is needed a lot of the time, and where it is introduced it often amplifies the sweetness, never overcrowding the voice and guitar. By ‘Stories We Build, Stories We Tell’ Gonzalez is in full flow, there is a slow Cuban style groove almost like something from Buena Vista Social Club, which takes the listener with it and seems to end all too soon, such was the effect of flowing.
‘What Will’ is like a groovier more funked up version of something found on Nick Drake’s final album Pink Moon. It is the song with the title of the album hidden in its words, with that little mystery to work out. What does it all mean? It’s certainly one of the appealing riddles to solve of Gonzalez’s music.
Over the course of the record, and in general, Gonzalez feels like one of those rare musicians that knows exactly what he is doing and where he is headed. His gifts are ample and evident all the time. He doesn’t make any unnecessary racket, his every sound is calculated and resonant far beyond the reach of its decibel count. He is an intelligent musician crafting divine guitar music songs. His voice, never spectacular, is reliable and profound in how it reaches out and touches. The way it is recorded sounds like he could be sitting behind you playing while you listen. It’s so alive, so remote and elegant.
Vestiges And Claws is another success for a man who is surely getting used to that. There is little more that could be asked of Gonzalez. It’s beautiful, ripe, and one of the most delicious fruits you will take a bite of all year long. It won’t change the world, but it undoubtedly shares some warmth, love and beauty with anyone who comes across it.