bon iver – for emma, forever ago (4ad/jagjaguwar)
rarely does an album capture so clearly and completely the atmosphere it was recorded and set in. in the same way how you can actually hear the freezing cold studio where joy division recorded unknown pleasures, bon iver‘s for emma, forever ago sounds exactly like the wintertime isolated cabin in wisconsin where justin vernon holed himself in to write and record this album. while vernon’s voice harmonizes perfectly with the sparse instrumentation of his music, what strikes me most are the perfectly timed silences that fill in all the nuances vernon leaves open. this gives the album a reassuring calm over much of the content, mostly characterized by the catharsis of songs like “skinny love” and “the wolves”, something that vernon makes clear only at the end in “re: stacks”: this is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization/ it’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away/ your love will be/ safe with me. it’s fitting that even these words are overtaken finally by a final period of silence, which if you listen closely enough, is really of him leaving the room and finally hanging up the phone.