Jose Gonzalez

    In Our Nature


    At first glance In Our Nature appears to imitate its younger sibling, Veneer (released stateside in 2005), but dig deeper and the particulars emerge in beautifully developed subtleties, swift melodies, and catchy hooks. Born in Sweden to Argentine parents, his music complements his origins, both Northern Argentina folk and Scandinavian pop. Composed mostly with acoustics, some multi-tracked vocals (including some from his girlfriend, Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon), soft scuttling percussion, and occasional counter melodies, his songs become weightless, afloat with lyrics timely and relevant.



    The album opens with “How Low,” where Gonzalez sings, “How low are you willing to go before you reach all your selfish goals.” This dark opener is followed by more transience and Gonzalez’s own disenchantment with the world. But where Gonzalez is quick to point out flaws, he doesn’t forget about hope in humanity. In “Down the Line,” with its hard yet delicate bite to the strings, he brings about an illusory hook at the end where Gonzalez sings over and over, “Don’t let the darkness eat you up.” Even with gut shots to the worldly absurdities and human trivialities Gonzalez throws throughout the album, he never overdoes himself. Rather, he presents grandiose themes on simplistic terms, and it’s never too heavy to digest.


    “Teardrops” replaces “Heartbeats” (originally by the Knife) as the cover of the album, only it doesn’t have the same effect. Quite the opposite, actually. Gonzalez’s version comes out slightly hollow, lacking the pulse and resonance of the Massive Attack original. This one can go easily unnoticed among the originals that surround it. On the other hand, the cheerfully pretty “Time to Send Someone Away,” originally recorded with Embee, is Gonzalez’s best song to date.


    It’s true that most of the attention Gonzalez received in the beginning was from songs other artists’ wrote. The difference with Gonzalez is that he picks songs that fit his minimalist and whimsical approach — and he often makes them better than the originals.






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