Argentine-born, Sweden-bred José González has long trafficked in the natural, outdoors guitar sounds of both of his home countries, but in recent years he has seemed more interested in working with others, such as his group Junip and even The Göteburg String Theory of experimental and classical artists. Vestiges & Claws marks his first solo full-length since 2007’s In Our Nature, and is a welcome return to his stripped down natural style.
From opener “With the Ink of a Ghost” on forward, Vestiges delivers an intimate, up-close González, but it still feels outdoors. There are woodwinds on “The Forest” (naturally), a conversational/confessional style to “Open Book” that brings to mind early Bright Eyes (without Conor Oberst’s insufferable baggage from that period), and folk fuzz to “Stories We Build, Stories We Tell”. He eschews the somewhat ill fitting tech elements of the last Junip record (QRO review), save for an abrupt shift into enchanting on “Let It Carry You”. Even “Leaf Off / The Cave” is only big relative for González – there’s also a quiet instrumental, “Vissel”.
José González is capable of many things in music, but it’s really nice seeing him getting back to his solo roots.