What I'm listening to this week: Bon Iver

For Emma, Forever Ago – 2008

I had heard quite a bit about this album before I finally was able to purchase it a few months ago. Positive reviews had me excited that For Emma, Forever Ago was the type of album I could really get into. When I actually did listen to it, I was disappointed. To quote a musical genius, it was just ai’ght for me dawg. Not fully deterred, this week I decided to give Bon Iver (real name: Justin Vernon) another shot.

To be sure, there are beautiful songs on the album. “Skinny Love” and “Creature Fear” standout as slices of acoustic indie pop made to be picked up and used in television shows and Diablo Cody movies. The major issue with For Emma, Forever Ago is that many of the other tracks sound like lesser versions of brilliant songs by other more creative artists. “The Wolves (Act 1 & 2)” sounds like TV on the Radio, “Blindsided” sounds like Iron and Wine, and “Lump Sum” even reminds me of Peter, Bjorn and John. The only differentiating feature for Bon Iver is his distinctive (and quite incessant) use of falsetto. It works in some places, but between the vocal track doubling and hollow sound of the recording, he doesn’t succeed in eliciting the necessary emotions. Yeah, I get it…he was wounded, the album was recorded in a cabin in the woods with old equipment, he’s a poet…etc. I can absolutely see why people would like and relate to this album. My two cents: I like to give albums a minimum of five listens before deciding whether or not I actually dislike it. For Emma, Forever Ago just never caught fire for me after many more than that.

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One Response to “What I'm listening to this week: Bon Iver”

  • Sean says:

    Well said, lady. It’s like he’s well prepared for the race, he’s got the right shoes on, but when the gun goes off Bon Iver just stands up at the blocks and scratches his ass.

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