Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago" is a sparse collection of deeply personal songs on mostly guitar that weave together the story of love lost. There are unexpected moments of harsh vocal phrasing like on "Skinny Love" dispersed with lovely baritone. There's a jazzy drum mash up on "The Wolves (Act I and II)" that, to me, sounds like a recording of a freight train at close range, but then dismantles into a crash of cymbals. It's impossible for me to tell if he recorded a train en route and wove it into the song or if the drummer just mimics a train's thump and wallow with startling accuracy. The singer-songwriter fronting the band is Justin Vernon originally intended to release the songs on "For Emma" as separate demos. Aren't we glad that he did not?
Bon Inver derives its name from the French phrase "bon hiver" meaning "have a good winter." He recorded "For Emma, Forever Ago" using nominal, dated recording equipment while he spent three months in a remote cabin in Wisconsin.
This is a soundtrack is not to be missed, especially for those late night winter strolls.
--Erin C., Mid-County Branch