Much has been said about the fact that Justin Vernon recorded For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar) in a secluded cabin in rural Wisconsin, sometimes even hunting for his meals. That would explain why his opening set for Black Mountain on March 6 suggested that a rural cabin would have been a better setting. At least then his yelps could have been used to lure animals. If For Emma, Forever Ago wasn’t such a powerful album, little would have separated Bon Iver from a forgettable local opener.
Nothing can be said to detract from Vernon’s musicianship, instrumentally. Rotating among more than five guitars, he and two others used their instruments to experiment with acoustics. Much of the appeal of Bon Iver rests in timbre and layered sonic quality. When all elements meet, they form a new sound. Unfortunately, all of the sounds did not meet.
The slow melodies of Bon Iver were soothing, but when a detached, hoarse voice was interwoven throughout, the result was dissonance. The difference between the sound of the album and the live show was just too drastic. Maybe touring has already caught up with him. Bon printemps, Bon Iver.