Bon Iver

For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)

Perhaps no album of 2007 had a greater sense of place than Bon Iver's (pronounced "Bohn Eevair") For Emma, Forever Ago, set for re-issue on Jagjaguwar this week. Recorded by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon over four months in a northwestern Wisconsin hunting cabin, it's quintessential winter listening (in fact, Bon Iver is misspelled French for "good winter"), perfect for long drives on dark, snowy roads or quiet nights tucked away by the glow of the space heater.

On songs such as "Flume" and "Creature Fear," Vernon's multi-tracked vocals sound eerily like the lonesome howls of wolves, and it's no coincidence—he's practically the indie folk Jack London, alone in the wilderness with nothing but his thoughts and his songs as company. It's the homespun production that really makes Emma soar, however, with Vernon and a few overdubbed cohorts adding rough but elegant touches throughout, from the acoustic feedback of "Flume" to the rattling, noisy percussion and vocal flange of "The Wolves (Act I and II)." But Emma's most triumphant moment doesn't arrive till the lilting lap steel and celebratory horns of "For Emma" come bursting from the speakers on the second to last track, exorcising all that seasonal depression with a burst of bittersweet sunshine.

 
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