Review: José Gonzáles – Vestiges & Claws
Swedish indie-folk singer/songwriter José Gonzáles is back with a new longplayer, entitled Vestiges & Claws. Felix Englund Örn checks it out:
“Idle as a wave, moving out at sea
Cruising without sound, moulding what’s to be
Serene between the trails
Serene with the tide
Ending on the coast”
Thus ends the opening track on José Gonzáles first solo record in eight years. Images of a soundless wave calmly coming to its end – changing every second. It’s these thoughts of change and where things will end which seems to entice José Gonzáles at this stage of his life. In an interview with the Gothenburg native he was asked to list of three important subjects upon which he said about consciousness: “Because it affects what we should take into consideration and through what means. What things really have a consciousness, and how should we relate to them? Compare how to relate to a rock, a clam, a dog, a pig, a human embryo, a future supercomputer.” Thoughts like this riddled Vestiges & Claws. How are one to act in our modern day? Global ethics and the simple but ample in answer, question of, how to live a better richer life are questions raised and explored Vestiges & Claws. And whilst exploring these subjects, Gonzáles treats us to his usual fingerpicking guitar playing and it’s great to have him back behind the acoustic guitar again. But that is not to say he hasn’t evolved since 2008’s In Our Nature. Gonzáles shows a willingness to experiment in style and let the tracks change during the course of the song, even if they are subtle. The clearest example of this residing on the magnificent What Will. The moment when the song switches, or rather keeps going around the halfway mark of the six-and-half-minute-long (and longest on the album) track, is a thing of beauty and one of the several moments which will keep you coming back.
Another thing that has changed is the fact that Gonzáles has done everything on his own. Mixing, producing, recording. Whether it be in his home in Haga or at the outskirts of Gothenburg at a recording studio. Making this an album fully his own. And yet, maybe contrary to a first-time exploration of making an album all on his own and using material that’s been with him for a long time, Vestiges & Claws is his most concise and coherent record yet. It flows superbly.
I have found myself to enjoy Vestiges & Claws immensely. Especially on lazy mornings when the coffee/caffeine surges have yet to hit me, the sun hanging low, basking my apartment in light and the mood to really do anything needing doing having yet to strike. And even if your exposure to Gonzáles’ music is just in combination through a cascade of colourful bouncy balls. I urge you to take a second to explore Vestiges & Claws.
Vestiges & Claws is available on iTunes and it’s up on spotify. Check his tour dates here.
Review by Felix Englund Örn.