For 12 years Jose Gonzalez has been making solo contributions to the indie music scene with his soothing vocals and rhythmic acoustic guitar. Known for soft-spoken, poetic lyrics and alluring guitar phrases, the skilled musician has come a long way since his first album, “Veneer.” Gonzalez’s most recent release, “Vestiges and Claws,” is characterized by the same seamless flow of entrancing tracks we’ve seen in previous albums. His latest, however, shows a change in style that is reflective of an aging self and career.
“Vestiges and Claws” is filled with tunes that are generally calmer than the Gonzalez we’ve heard previously. Less jarring in its rhythmic pursuits and less angsty in its lyrical endeavors, the album depicts an artist who has clearly grown throughout his 12-year solo career. Gonzalez’s latest release retains every bit of magic that reeled us in and kept us faithful for the past 12 years, but with an evolved style.
The track “With The Ink Of A Ghost” begins the album, leading us into an exploration of meandering melodies and soft crooning. This first track’s intricate riffs and dreamlike state transition toward a more cadenced sound in “Let It Carry You.” In this track, our Argentinian-born, Swedish-bred musician throws in soft, choral-style background vocals to juxtapose his prevailing indie-alternative style.
The soulful and deliberate “Stories We Build, Stories We Tell” exposes blues rock ‘n’ roll influences and serves as a critical first peak in the album. Gonzalez also uses this track to explore the nature of anger with his astute lyrics advising listeners, “Don’t believe in karma or hell, but in the memories and stories we tell.”
More experimentation follows in “The Forest,” in which Asian-style woodwind melodies are explored through a simple musical base. The pinnacle of Gonzalez’s album is reached later in “What Will,” a tightly woven, rhythmic exploration of self-purpose that you will feel coursing through every fiber in your body. Gonzalez compellingly calls attention to the importance of self-awareness, asking what listeners hope to be remembered for. The adroit musician suggests that perhaps our society will be known for “lazy acceptance of the norm,” or “silent acceptance of the form.”
The remaining tracks are dynamic in range. A few bring us back to the more familiar, intense sounds that Gonzalez has proven to be his strong suits. Others, like the entirely instrumental “Vissel,” continue the theme of exploration and experimentation.
Each track comes together, forming an album that demonstrates Gonzalez’s shift toward calmness and peace. This overall increase in serenity comes expectedly, as Gonzalez has now reached the ripe age of 36. But more importantly, it does not in any way deter the musician’s deft capabilities on guitar and overall brilliant musicianship. “Vestiges and Claws” effortlessly portrays Gonzalez’s developed maturity and undeniable musical ability. Gonzalez once again impresses with “Vestiges and Claws.”
Contact Claralyse Palmer at [email protected].