Intimate beauty is a difficult sound to pull off, so restrained and close up that any error is magnified, and with limited instrumentation to do different things. But Argentina-by-way-of-Sweden’s José González has been doing it for years now, both on his own and his band Junip. New record Local Valley embraces the natural sounds of the outdoors that are just outside your window.
Decidedly quiet, Valley is mostly just González + guitar, with some actual sounds of nature thrown in at times. This means that the album doesn’t vary a whole lot, but does focus on what González does best, from his harmonies to Spanish guitar plucking. The more energized pieces such as “Head On”, “Valle Local” (there are some songs in Spanish), and the swinging “Swing” probably stand out the most, but there is also the haunting loss to “Line of Fire”.
In these days where even the stripped down sounds are usually with synthesizers and autotune, González is a beautiful throwback to the great Old World tradition of simple pleasures.