José González: Vestiges & Claws – CD review

Despite the seven-year gap between albums, José González has been as busy as a bee. The time between his previous solo outing (2007’s In Our Nature) and Vestiges & Claws has been filled with a flurry of collaborations – his work with the band Junip, and with The Götenborg String Theory project, is particularly rewarding.

But for those for whom González’s previous two albums resonate, Vestiges & Claws comes not a moment too soon. It’s the immediacy and the intimacy of González’s solo work that’s especially resonant.

He sets his stall out early with opener With The Ink Of A Ghost and from there on out Vestiges & Claws is long on warm, organic acoustic nylon-string guitar sounds and close-mic’d vocals, correspondingly short on overdubs or overt percussion.

Lyrically he’s not the deepest thinker ever to make a record, but musically José González is as articulate as they come.

This low-temperature palette of sounds does make a vocal harmony, or a tapped-guitar-body-as-beatbox, arrive like a rainstorm in a desert.

And on the likes of Stories We Build, Stories We Tell and Leaf Off/The Cave González manages to build a sort of polite, unthreatening intensity, a kind of insistent knocking from someone you know is too considerate to just boot the door in.

If your system’s got the breadth of expression and a properly unified frequency range, Vestiges & Claws has plenty to give.

  • Duration 42m 52s
  • Standout track Stories We Build, Stories We Tell Simmering and insistent, in a high-gloss manner.

Kob began his career at What Hi-Fi?, starting in the dusty stockroom before rising up the ranks to join the editorial and production team as the Buyer’s Guide editor. Experienced in both magazine and online publishing, he now runs the TV & audio section at Trusted Reviews where he keeps a beady eye on all the latest comings and goings in the hi-fi and home cinema market.