The arrival of “Veneer,” the full-length debut from Swedish-born acoustic maestro José González, is already one of the most exciting prospects for music in 2005. It’s a stripped-down release of gorgeous, eloquent musings that catch González in candle-lit intimacy, with just his nylon strings to snap out a delicate rhythm that reflect his Argentinean roots.
”Slow Moves” is anything but that; rather, it’s head-down, up-tempo dash is an inconspicuous dip into the well of González’s carefully crafted, sell-sufficient ambience. Threading a lovely beginning together, the dewy-eyed optimism to “Remain” rumbles on with just two lines (“We’ll remain after everything’s been washed away by the rain / We will stand upright as we stand today,”) though it may take half a dozen listens (or even more) to realise that that’s all there is to it. Simple and sparse at all times (it’s just González and his acoustic on every track), it’s clear that he has been wandering alone in the walls of his own sound for years, and has found a way of extracting the most from it like few others could, given the same tools.
It’s a world that, almost wickedly, we’re only getting a taster of here; with eleven tracks bowing out after half an hour, by the time you’re ready to sit down and unfurl, you’re being showed the door. However, each song is like a beautiful little scene from a low-budget, independent foreign film you may never see; the heartbreak of “Lovestain” handed to you simply with the lines: “”You left a lovestain on my heart / And you left a bloodstain on the ground / But blood comes off easily,” while the twinkling of “Deadweight On Velveteen” runs deep with the timely, John Fahey-like addition of three simple, resonating bass notes.
There are wonderful bossa nova-like rhythms to be found on tracks such as “Stay in the Shade,” gliding up against you and breezing by like the seduction of a swivelling Latin dance. The only real signs of formulaic failure come with “Hints,” which relies too much on a solitary, hammer-on-hammer-off turn of the strings, before allowing “Broken Arrows” to aptly draw “Veneer” to a close by summoning a mass of dark clouds over its run of quiet tales, trailing out to the sound of the only other instrument that appears on the album: a melancholic, muted trumpet. Invigoratingly fresh, “Veneer” is a real find for those who may have lost faith in what new music has to offer.
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|25th April 2005|