For Emma Forever Ago
The essential story behind this album is that Justin Vernon installed himself in a log cabin in rural Wisconsin for 3 months, and emerged with this collection of nine songs. The story is important - like all art, its concept is an integral part of the piece. The name Bon Iver is a purposeful misspelling of the French for 'good winter' - meant to be a greeting, to us, one presumes.
The music is backwoods hypnotic, lush despite its limited instrumentation (Vernon recorded all vocals and instruments himself), and unfailingly beguiling. Although it is occasionally inconsistent, tracks like Flume, Blindsided, re:stacks, and Creature Fear are simply gorgeous, like Chris Bathgate but without the staring intensity, like Jose Gonzalez, or perhaps most like the quieter moments of Damien Jurado.
It may be that this is the only album that Vernon may want to make in this way, and the critical acclaim (the blogs have gone wild) accorded For Emma will certainly increase the pressure on his follow up, but this album is a sweet little gem in its own right.